Why Incorporate in Washington DC?
Within the District of Columbia, business owners can take advantage of various incentives, provided your corporation meets the specific criteria.
For example, Washington DC offers an Apprenticeship Program that provides information, guidance and assistance to businesses in developing and implementing customized apprenticeship programs that meet industry-specific hiring and training needs. Employers may be able to receive up to $5,000 for the cost of training WIOA-eligible employees by being on the Eligibility Training Provider List (ETPL), and free technical assistance is offered to employers to develop the required apprenticeship standards.
For most entrepreneurs looking to start a larger business, creating a Washington DC 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 a limited liability company (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 what you want to achieve. Limited liability companies are usually better for smaller businesses. 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 Washington DC LLC so you can decide which business entity is right for you.
Benefits of Forming a Washington DC C Corp
Benefits of Forming a Washington DC S Corp
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
- The capacity for up to 100 shareholders
- Simpler rules than those that apply 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 Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
How to Form a Washington DC Corporation Yourself in 6 Steps
Choose a Unique Business Name and Complete a State Corporation Search
Every Washington DC 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 Washington DC Corporation Names page.
Once you’ve chosen a name, you’ll need to make sure it’s available in Washington DC. To learn whether another company in the state is using your desired business name, use our tool to do a Washington DC entity search.
You can also carry out a name search on the DC Business Center website. You'll need to log in to the state's CorpOnline portal to take advantage of this service.
Provide an Official Address for Your Corporation
Every Washington DC corporation must have a designated address. This could be the address of your home (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 Washington DC and can be a P.O. Box.
You may also be able to use a virtual mailbox for your business address. This can be especially helpful if you run a home-based business and don't want your home address published as part of your business public record.
Assign a Registered Agent
Someone who receives official correspondence and is responsible for filing reports with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is known as a Registered Agent. Every Washington DC corporation is required to have a Registered Agent.
You can fill this position yourself, assign another manager in your business or use a Registered Agent service. If your Registered Agent in Washington DC is a person, they must have a physical street address in Washington DC 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 Washington DC Articles of Incorporation to create your business with the DCRA.
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 Washington DC DCRA
Once you've gathered all the information for your corporation, you’ll need to file a form with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to receive your Washington DC Articles of Incorporation. This will officially create your business.
File by Mail
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
PO Box 92300
Washington, DC 20090
You only need to file your Washington DC Articles of Incorporation once, but every other year after, you'll also need to file a biennial report. The first report must be filed within the first year of registration by April 1st and every two years thereafter. You can do this by logging in to the CorpOnline portal and completing the filing. The fee for the biennial report is $300. Incfile can remind you about this biennially, or we can do it for you if you have us handle the paperwork.
What are the fees and requirements to incorporate in Washington DC?
Initial report must be filed within the first year of registration by April 1st and then every two years thereafter.
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, when submitting payroll information and payments for your employees and for opening a business bank account. You can obtain one directly from the IRS, or Incfile can get one for you as part of the Washington DC corporation formation process.
Bylaws are a set of rules that govern how a corporation will be run, and 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 — including Washington DC. However, you're not legally required to file them with the state. Regardless of state legalities, it’s always a good idea to write them to protect your business from any future changes and events.
Washington DC Corporation Types
Check with the Washington DC DCRA to confirm whether your business should and can be a Professional Corporation.