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Do I need resident agent / registered agent?

A registered agent (also known as a resident agent in Massachusetts) is required for all registered businesses (like an LLC or corporation) to accept service of process on behalf of the business and receive communication from the state.  Service of process is when a party initiates a lawsuit and provides requisite notice of the action to the opposing party.  This is typically hand delivered by a sheriff or third party.  When filing your entity, and each year for your annual report, you are required to provide the name and street address of your registered agent.  In most states this is a public record.  If one is not included on your filing it will be rejected.

In many states, including Massachusetts, you can either serve as your own registered agent or hire a third party.  The requirements to serve as a registered agent are as follows:

  • Individual over the age of 18;
  • someone available in person during normal business hours (9am-5pm) 5 days a week to accept service of process;
  • a state resident or state entity that provides registered / resident agent services; and
  • has a physical street address (no PO Boxes).

Can you serve as my registered agent?

Continue reading “Do I need resident agent / registered agent?” »

IRS EIN Responsible Party

In order to obtain an EIN with the Internal Revenue Service you must elect a “responsible party”.   This is one of the individuals who controls, manages or directs the entity.  It must be a real person, not another entity and the filing will include their individual Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN or EIN).

The IRS defines “responsible party” for all entities that do not file with the SEC as follows: “the person who has a level of control over, or entitlement to, the funds or assets in the entity that, as a practical matter, enables the individual, directly or indirectly, to control, manage or direct the entity and the disposition of its funds and assets.”

This content is for general educational purposes only and does not to provide any specific legal advice. By using this Site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Trident Legal.  This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Do I need an EIN?

An EIN is an Employer Identification Number obtained with the IRS for business purposes.  Despite it’s name you may need or want to  obtain an EIN even if you do not have employees.  Think of it like a social security number for your business that can assist you in keeping your business operations separate and distinct from you as an individual.

Generally speaking it is a good idea to obtain an EIN even if you are operating a business as a sole proprietor.  These can be filed for free on the IRS’s website.  The IRS has provided guidance on who should obtain an EIN here.

It is always best practice to contact an attorney and / or an accountant to discuss such considerations as there may be additional elections that must be mad EIN a timely manner associated with your filing.

This content is for general educational purposes only and does not to provide any specific legal advice. By using this Site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Trident Legal.  This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Do I need a Registered / Resident Agent?

A registered agent (also known as a resident agent in Massachusetts) is required for all registered businesses (like an LLC or corporation) to accept service of process on behalf of the business and receive communication from the state.  Service of process is when a party initiates a lawsuit and provides requisite notice of the action to the opposing party.  This is typically hand delivered by a sheriff or third party.  When filing your entity, and each year for your annual report, you are required to provide the name and street address of your registered agent.  In most states this is a public record.  If one is not included on your filing it will be rejected.

In many states, including Massachusetts, you can either serve as your own registered agent or hire a third party.  The requirements to serve as a registered agent are as follows:

  • Individual over the age of 18;
  • someone available in person during normal business hours (9am-5pm) 5 days a week to accept service of process;
  • a state resident or state entity that provides registered / resident agent services; and
  • has a physical street address (no PO Boxes).

Can you serve as my registered agent?

Typically, clients want their attorney to serve as their resident agent so they are instantly aware if an action against their client has been initiated.  Trident Legal provides resident agent services in Massachusetts which include:

  • Filing with the state as your resident agent;
  • Use of the street address as your resident agent (note you still need your own street address for your registered office);
  • Acceptance of service of process on behalf of your company;
  • Receipt of state communication on behalf of your company;
  • Notification by your attorney upon service; and
  • Scanned copies of all documents securely transmitted.

If you would like to find out more about obtaining registered agent services from Trident Legal please contact us by completing this form.

Registered agent services are $150/year.

This content is for general educational purposes only and does not to provide any specific legal advice. By using this Site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Trident Legal.  This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Member-Managed v Manager-Managed: Management Structure in the LLC

When forming a limited liability company (LLC) you need to determine if you wish to be Member-Managed or Manager-Managed.  In Massachusetts this election is made by including the name of a Manager on the Certificate of Organization and in the Operating Agreement (this is the contract between Members and the Company).  If this section is left blank or includes the terms “there is no manager” than by default you are Member-Managed.  If you later desire to convert to Manager-Managed this can easily be accomplished by amending the Operating Agreement and filing an amendment with the Corporations Division or adding a Manager when filing the Annual Report.

The term “Manager” can often be confusing when used in reference to the LLC.  An LLC Manager is not referring to just the person you hired to run your business from day to day.  This is a different type of legal management structure for an LLC.  The LLC is owned by its Members.  Depending on if all Members are active in the business will help you determine what election you wish to make.

So, should I be manager-managed or member-managed?

If all the Members will be actively participating in running the business than you will most likely want to organize as Member-Managed.  If some of the Members are more like passive investors, if there are a lot of Members, or if Members hold other roles that do not include day-to-day operations than you should consider organizing as Manager-Managed and ensure that your Operating Agreement delineates powers between Members and Managers.

 This content is for general educational purposes only and does not to provide any specific legal advice. By using this Site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Trident Legal.  This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Making the Most of Small Business Saturday

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Everyone knows Black Friday, and the chaos that ensues with massive chain stores and companies offering great deals on their products, and often times in limited quantities.  Cyber Monday has become a newer “holiday” where online retailers offer similarly attractive sales, coming the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Lesser known, but possibly more important, is Small Business Saturday, which occurs on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which is November 30th this year.

 

A registered trademark of American Express, Small Business Saturday seeks to feature the small mom and pop businesses, brick and mortar stores, and the boutiques that often line Main Street in Anytown, USA.  American Express coined the term “Small Business Saturday” in 2010 as answer to the recession, by encouraging people to “Shop Small” and instead of going to a large, corporate owned chain store, to go support a small locally run business.

 

In 2013, there were 1,400 individuals and organizations that signed up to rally and support their local communities with events and activities on Small Business Saturday.  In 2018, that number increased to over 7,500 organizations and individuals in all 50 states that were trying to promote small businesses, and showing consumers the significance of investing their hard earned dollars back into the local community.

 

Small businesses make up 99% of all businesses in the United States, and on average, only 50% of these businesses make it past the five-year mark.  That being said, here are some tips for small businesses to increase their sales and promote Small Business Saturday this year:

  1. Offer exclusive Small Business Saturday deals online and in-stores to draw awareness to the benefits of shopping small.
  2. Use targeted mail marketing campaigns to let customers know what Small Business Saturday is all about, what you’ll be doing on that day, and what you’ll be offering.
  3. Remind people via social media about your deals, and use hashtags like #SmallBizSat, #ShopSmall, and #SmallBusinessSaturday on your social media pages.
  4. Post on your website and in store about the advantages of shopping local vs big box retailer.
  5. Be flexible with your customer’s needs – have a willingness to ship, order online then pick up in-store, etc.

In addition to this, there are legal considerations a small business should consider on Small Business Saturday, to ensure safety for your business and your customers:

  1. Ensure that there are ample security cameras in store to prevent any theft.
  2. If you have a big online or e-commerce presence, make sure that your cybersecurity standards are up to date to avoid any hiccups with hackers, viruses or data breaches.
  3. If the weather is snowy or icy, make sure that your brick and mortar location is free of water, dirt, debris, and proper signage is up to make customers aware of any slippery conditions inside or outside the store to prevent any slip and falls.
  4. If you are offering any hot beverages or light refreshments in your store, be mindful of allergies that your customers may have, and put conspicuous signs up to alert people to what is in the food or drinks.
  5. Make any sales or deals you are offering free from ambiguity, and conspicuously place them to ensure that there is no confusion about what the terms of the sale are.

#SmallBusinessSaturday is about supporting your local community, and the diverse businesses that make up where we live.  Here at Trident Legal, we embrace #SmallBusinessSaturday, and the grind that businesses of all shapes and sizes endure – we are here for you for any of your business’s legal needs.

By Jeremy Siegel

This content is for general educational purposes only and does not to provide any specific legal advice. By using this Site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Trident Legal.  This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

National Veterans Small Business Week – Resources

As a veteran, you are entitled to various benefits to help jump start your business idea, or to help your current business grow and prosper.  Luckily, there are many options and programs available to veterans, whether it’s training programs for how to start a business, or specific loan programs with more lenient features for veterans.  A great starting point would be the SBA website (sba.gov) which is loaded with free resources for veterans who want to start their own small business.

General Programs

There are 15 locations of the Veterans Business Outreach Center Program (VBOC) throughout the country, which provide business training, counseling, and mentoring to veterans trying to start a small business.  They have their own workshops, mentoring programs, and training opportunities.  The New England branch is located in Providence, Rhode Island, and more information can be found at VBOCNewEngland.org.

Boots to Business is a free education and training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration to veterans who want to become entrepreneurs.  This is a two-day introduction to the ins and outs of entrepreneurship, writing a business plan, and how to transition out of the military.

Funding and Financing Your Small Business

In terms of funding, the Small Business Administration has a Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan, which has long terms and lower down payments for veterans who are trying to finance their small business.  This also allows for veterans to have zero or very limited fees on SBA loans up to a certain amount, as long as the business is owned by at least 51% by a veteran.  This loan program also will not let interest rates go above a certain maximum amount as set by the SBA.  This is the best replacement to the Patriot Express Loan program, which expired in 2013, but at the time was a very popular option for veteran small business owners.

Other funding options include:

  • Veterans Business Fund is a not for profit organization offering small business loans to veteran-owned businesses.
  • StreetShares is an online loan program for veteran business owners.
  • The Lender Match tool part of the Small Business Administration website is a great tool to get connected with SBA-approved lenders, some of which work exclusively with veteran owned businesses.
  • The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) allows veterans to get grants, but also requires registering your company as a veteran-owned business. Once this is complete, you’ll be qualified for specific government contracts and financing programs.
  • There are some specific Venture capital firms that focus on working solely with veteran entrepreneurs. Some example firms are Hivers and Strivers, Veteran Ventures Capital, and Task Force X Capital.

Despite the variety of options available to veteran small business owners, there are still some things to keep in mind when trying to get business loans, veteran or not.  Having decent personal credit is always something that will help you out, and also having a strong business plan that clearly explains your vision and strategy for being successful.  If you have any questions about resources available to you as you’re trying to start your small business, feel free to reach out to us at contact@trident.legal or call us at (617) 695-0009.

By Jeremy Siegel

This content is for general educational purposes only and does not to provide any specific legal advice. By using this Site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Trident Legal.  This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Corporate Compliance

Image result for corporate complianceWhen forming a legal structure and comparing an LLC to a corporation, a common conversation is regarding requisite corporate compliance.  That is the statutory obligations that we can’t contractually avoid.  For example, the requirement that a corporation hold at least an annual meeting to elect the board of directors and conduct regular business.  Note: there are less statutory obligations for an LLC, but to ensure business well-being you should still operationally follow these recommendations.

Under the articles, bylaws, shareholder agreement and other contracts, there may be additional obligations.  It is important to understand these and comply with them.  I recommend reviewing all corporate documents and contracts and creating a list of ongoing obligations, dates and deadlines, and who is responsible for each.  Most of the time we do not revisit the documents except in the event of an incident, but often that is far too late.  The goal is to contain the infection before it leads to an amputation.  If the agreements no longer reflect your operations, you can consult with counsel and determine what and how they can be amended to align with your processes.

Annual reports must be filed on or ideally before the due date each year.  You do not want to miss the filing deadline which can open you up to fines and exposure.  Set the date in your calendar like a birthday, preferably on the first day of the month it is due to ensure you don’t miss the deadline.  Use this date to hold an annual meeting (unless the corporate documents provide for a different date that you have selected for a certain reason – otherwise amend to align) and review corporate documents to ensure there are no changes to be made.  These is a great time for a compliance audit as well.

Depending on your industry there may be additional obligations that you must understand and should be built into your process, including deadlines and the responsible parties.  Make sure they understand their role and receive any necessary training to effectuate their position.  Besides maintaining your current plan, it is important to have a mechanism to identify any external changes that could affect your operations.  Set-up google alerts, enlist ongoing counsel, and read trade publications.

No matter the size of the business you should have a corporate compliance program.  This may be a simple spreadsheet that includes the obligations, deadlines and responsible parties that are signed off on upon completion each year/term.   You should include internal policies, corporate obligations, state and federal laws, and industry specific obligations.  Think through each agency that can impose obligations on your entity.  For example:

  • Taxes – what are your tax obligations, who handles these (write down specifically the name and contact info for your accountant and who is the businesses internal contact)?
  • Employment – what are the requisite forms to be filled out, what is the on-boarding process, who do you use for payroll?
  • Industry specific – OSHA, ADA, HIPPA …

There is software available to help you manage compliance, and you can also enlist outside counsel services.

Once you have everything in place, maintenance can be streamlined.  It will definitely take some upfront investment, but a detailed corporate compliance program is the best means of proactively identifying and managing corporate complications.

Legal Wellness Check-up for Small Businesses

Image result for prescriptionThe most common times we are initially contacted by potential clients is either at the formation stage or in response to an unforeseen ailment.  The later situations cannot always be avoided, but there are a few things we can do to identify early and intervene, or completely circumvent.  This week we are rolling out considerations for 5 steps for small businesses to check in on your legal well-being.

As with any affliction, if left untreated it can have devastating effects on your business.  Symptoms don’t always present themselves until too late.  Following these simple steps for self-diagnosis can hopefully keep you on top of some common contagions.

  1. Corporate Compliance
  2. Commercial Lease
  3. Licensing
  4. Employee Relations
  5. Industry Regulations

Image result for business health

Tax Elections and Default Classifications for Eligible Entities

There are three possible federal tax classifications for U.S. business entities:

  1. Disregarded Entity;
  2. Corporation; or
  3. Partnership

Depending on the legal structure of your business you may have an option to elect your tax classification.  A business entity that is not necessarily classified as a corporation under Reg, 301.7701-2(b) can elect its classification for federal tax purposes.

Eligible Entities

Entities that are normally eligible include:

  • Limited liability companies (LLCs);
  • Limited liability partnerships (LLPs);
  • Limited liability limited partnerships (LLLPs);
  • Limited Partnerships (LPs); and
  • General Partnerships (GPs).

Ineligible Entities

Entities that are typically ineligible include:

  • Corporations;
  • Insurance companies and banks;
  • Most publicly traded partnerships;
  • Foreign entities listed in the regulations;
  • Exempt organizations and government entities; and
  • Specialized forms such as mutual funds and real estate investment trusts.

Election or Default

The rules provide that for an eligible entity with only a single owner, the business may elect to be classified as an association taxable as a corporation, or default and be classified as a disregarded entity (Schedule C).  For an eligible entity with at least two owners, the business may elect to be classified as an association taxable as a corporation, or default and be classified as a partnership (Form 1065, Schedule K-1).

Timing

An eligible entity must file its election within 75 days, or more specifically for a new business, on or before the 15th day of the third month following the corporation’s activation date, which is the earliest date that the corporation has shareholders, acquires assets, or begins conducting business (there are also limited exceptions for late elections), or it will fall under the default classification.

S Corporation

Additionally, an entity eligible to make a corporate election, if qualified, may make an S corp election.  To qualify for S corporation status, the corporation must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a domestic corporation;
  • Have only allowable shareholders;
    • May be individuals, certain trusts, and estates and
    • May not be partnerships, corporations or non-resident alien shareholders
  • Have no more than 100 shareholders;
  • Have only one class of stock; and
  • Not be an ineligible corporation (i.e. certain financial institutions, insurance companies, and domestic international sales corporations).

LLCs taxed as an S Corp

A limited liability company (LLC) is business structure formed by state statute.  Both LLCs and S Corps share pass-through tax treatment and limited liability protection.  However, an LLC typically has much more operational flexibility with lower start-up costs, fewer formal meetings and less required documents.  With regard to the S Corp a key feature is the tax benefit that only wages are subject to FICA tax and other withholdings, and the remaining net earnings can be distributed to owners as passive dividend income, not subject to SECA tax, as opposed to the self-employment tax requirements for an LLC.  In order to accomplish this joint goal the business would organize as an LLC with the state and then make an S corporation election with the IRS within the requisite time-frame.

IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU CONSULT WITH COUNSEL AND / OR YOUR TAX ADVISOR PRIOR TO MAKING ANY TAX ELECTIONS AS THEY MAY HAVE SIGNIFICANT CONSEQUENCES AND THERE ARE NUMEROUS CONSIDERATIONS TO BE WEIGHED.

This content is for general educational purposes only and does not to provide any specific legal advice. By using this Site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Trident Legal.  This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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