Why Form a Corporation in Georgia?
Georgia's Department of Economic Development has implemented several business incentives, which can give your Georgia corporation a competitive edge. You may be able to take advantage of these incentives, provided your business meets the qualifying criteria.
For example, the job tax credit offered by the State of Georgia provides tax credits to business owners who create jobs in certain industry sectors. Businesses have the potential to receive a tax credit of up to $4,000 per job created, per year.
For most entrepreneurs looking to start a larger business, creating a Georgia corporation may be the best choice. As a corporation, your business is able to buy and trade stock, and when it comes to excess profits, corporations offer more flexibility than an LLC. A corporation is allowed to pass income and losses to its shareholders, who report taxes on an individual tax return at ordinary levels.
Is an LLC Better Than a Corporation?
It all depends on your goals. For smaller businesses, limited liability companies are usually a better option. An LLC is easier to set up, and you receive many of the same benefits as a corporation, but with less regulation.
Learn more about forming a Georgia LLC so you can decide which business entity is right for you.
Benefits of Forming a Georgia C Corporation
Benefits of Forming a Georgia S Corporation
It offers several advantages similar to those provided by a C Corp, including but not limited to:
- Options for creating, transferring and selling stock, though not as many as a C Corp (for example, an S Corp is only permitted to sell one class of stock)
- The capacity for up to 100 shareholders
- Simpler rules than those applicable to C Corporations
- Easy transfer of ownership simply by selling your stock
- The possibility of saving money by allowing you to pay less self-employment tax
In this guide, you’ll find information on naming your corporation, getting a Registered Agent, the fees you’ll need to pay, business taxes and much more. We also cover what you'll need to register your corporation and how you'll interact with the Georgia Secretary of State (SOS).
Start a Business in Georgia Checklist
To help you along the way, use our Starting a Business checklist to keep track of everything you need to do to get your business up and running.
How to Form a Georgia Corporation Yourself in 7 Steps
Step 1 - Choose a Unique Business Name and Complete a State Business Search
Step 2 - Provide an Official Address for Your Corporation
Step 3 - Assign a Registered Agent
Step 4 - File Your Articles of Incorporation with the Georgia SOS
Step 5 - Complete the GA Corporation Publication Requirement
Step 6 - Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service
Step 7 - Write Bylaws
Choose a Unique Business Name and Complete a State Business Search
Every Georgia business must have a unique name that hasn't already been claimed by another business in the state. If you’re having trouble coming up with a name, try using our Business Name Generator to gather ideas. You'll need to follow a few naming rules, which you can read about in detail on the Georgia Corporation Names page.
Once you’ve chosen a name, you’ll need to make sure it’s available in Georgia. To learn whether another company in the state is using your desired business name, use our tool to do a Georgia entity search. You can also carry out a business name search on the Georgia SOS website.
Provide an Official Address for your Corporation
Every Georgia corporation must have a designated address. That could be your home address (if you’re running the company from your residence), a building where your office is located or any physical address of your preference. The address can be outside the State of Georgia and can be a P.O. Box.
You may also be able to use a virtual mailbox for your business address. Incfile can provide you with a Georgia virtual mailbox where we'll receive your mail and scan it for your online review. This can be especially convenient if you run a home-based business and don't want your home address published as part of your business public record.
Assign an Registered Agent
Someone who receives official correspondence and is responsible for filing reports with the Georgia Secretary of State is known as a Registered Agent. Every Georgia corporation is required to have a Registered Agent.
You can fill this position, assign another manager in your business or use a Registered Agent service. If your Georgia corporation Registered Agent is a person, they must have a physical street address in Georgia and must be present during business hours to receive important documents on behalf of your company. You'll appoint your Registered Agent when you file your GA Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State and officially form your corporation.
All of Incfile’s business formation packages include Registered Agent service. It’s free for the first year and just $119 per year after that. You can also access a digital dashboard to view any document we've received on your behalf.
File Your Articles of Incorporation with the Georgia SOS
Once you've gathered all the information for your corporation, you’ll need to file your GA Articles of Incorporation with the SOS. Once the SOS processes the filing, you will have officially created your business.
Your Articles of Incorporation can be filed online via the state's digital portal. You can also mail the form to the Office of the Secretary of State, or Incfile can file it on your behalf. The Georgia corporation filing fee is $100.
Note: If you choose to file in person or via mail, there is an additional $10 paper filing charge.
File by Mail
Georgia Secretary of State
214 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
You only need to file your Articles of Incorporation once, but you'll also need to file an annual registration with the Georgia SOS within 90 days of incorporation and once a year after. The SOS has provided a guide to help walk you through the process. Incfile can remind you about this every year, or we can do it for you if you have us handle the paperwork.
What are the fees and requirements for Georgia incorporation?
Within 90 days of incorporation, each Georgia corporation that has a business start date between January 1–October 1 must file with the Secretary of State an initial annual registration that lists 3 principal officers - CEO, CFO and Secretary.
Georgia corporations that have a business start date between October 2 - December 31 must file with the Secretary of State an initial annual registration during the 1st quarter of the year after the business effective date.
Corporation Publication Requirement
All corporations must publish a notice of intent to incorporate in a newspaper which is the official legal organ of the county where the initial registered office of the corporation is to be located. The notice should be published once a week for two consecutive weeks and it should contain the name of the corporation, the name of the registered agent and the address of the registered office in Georgia.
Complete the GA Corporation Publication Requirement
In addition to filing Articles of Incorporation, the State of Georgia requires corporations to publish a notice of intent to incorporate, as stated within the filing instructions on the Articles of Incorporation form:
"All corporations must publish a notice of intent to incorporate in the newspaper which is the official legal organ of the county where the initial registered office of the corporation is to be located, or in a newspaper of general circulation in such county and for which at least 60 percent of its subscriptions are paid. A list of legal organs is published at http://www.gsccca.org/clerks, or the clerk of superior court can advise you as to the legal organ in your county. The notice of intent to incorporate and a $40.00 publication fee should be forwarded directly to the newspaper no later than the next business day after filing articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State."
The filing procedure also provides an example of what the Notice of Incorporation must include and how it should be formatted.
Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service
You'll need an EIN to identify your business to the IRS. You use this number when filing and paying taxes or when submitting payroll information and payments for your employees. An EIN is also required to open a business bank account. You can obtain one directly from the IRS, or Incfile can get one for you as part of the Georgia corporation formation process.
A set of rules that govern how a corporation will be run, bylaws detail how many directors the corporation will have, whether the board of directors will have annual meetings and what the voting requirements are, among other things.
Some states require companies to create bylaws. You're not legally required to have them in Georgia, but it’s a good idea to write them to protect your business from any future changes and events.
Georgia Corporation Types
Helpful Resources from the State of Georgia
More Information in This Guide
You’ll find plenty more insight and guidance on the other pages of this guide, including:
How to search the state business registry and find the right name. Includes information on naming rules, assumed names, reserving a corporation name and more.
How to appoint, change and search for Registered Agents. Also includes the duties they fulfill and the rules they’re required to follow.
Details the various fees you’ll need to pay, as well as the state and federal requirements you’ll need to meet. Includes details about Employer Identification Numbers (EINs), state and federal business licenses, annual reports and more.
Covers the various taxes you’ll have to pay to the state and federal governments. Includes details about state taxes such as sales and franchise, and federal taxes such as income and self-employment.