Starting a company

How To Form A Corporation In South Dakota

Key takeaways

  • Find out how to pick a unique name for your business. The name must be unique and finish with "Incorporated," "Corporation," or "Limited."
  • You should be aware that you must submit your articles of incorporation to the South Dakota Secretary of State. The name of the corporation, its mission statement, and the names of its founding directors should all be listed in these articles.
  • Find out how to appoint a registered agent to accept legal papers on your corporation's behalf.
  • Know that before you can lawfully operate in South Dakota, you must get all required business licenses and permissions.
  • Discover the tax repercussions of incorporating in South Dakota. Despite the absence of a corporation income tax in the state, you will still be required to submit a yearly report and pay a franchise tax.
  • Recognize that you'll need to keep suitable corporate documents up to date, including financial statements and minutes of meetings.
  • Learn about the many corporate structures, including C companies, S corporations, and nonprofit organizations, that may be established in South Dakota.
  • Be aware that it can be advantageous to speak with a lawyer or other business expert who can assist you with South Dakota corporation formation.

Forming a corporation is a necessary first step for business owners seeking to establish a recognized legal corporate entity. In contrast to sole proprietorships and partnerships, incorporation has many advantages, including liability protection and financial access.

Advantages of locating your company in South Dakota include: 

  • South Dakota is a great place for owners looking to launch or grow their enterprises.
  • The state provides a business-friendly climate, cheap taxes, and few restrictions.
  • South Dakota is a desirable destination to live and work in because it offers a good quality of life and a talented workforce.

This essay will examine the advantages of forming and locating your company in South Dakota. We'll talk about the benefits of incorporation, such as liability protection and capital access, as well as the advantages of beginning a business in South Dakota, like reasonable taxes and a welcoming business climate. We will also offer advice and tools to company owners who wish to launch a venture in South Dakota.

Understanding Corporations

Definition of a corporation

A corporation is a type of legal body established for business purposes. It may engage in contracts, possess assets, and amass liabilities since it is considered a separate legal entity from its owners, called shareholders. A company is regarded as a "person" under the law, allowing it to sue, pay taxes, and engage in contracts.

Types of corporations


The most popular kind of corporation is a C-corporation, which is taxed independently from its owners. As a result, the business is responsible for paying taxes on its income, and any dividends paid to shareholders are subject to an additional tax. C-corporations can issue different classes of stock and have an unlimited number of shareholders. They can also provide employee stock options and other equity incentives and have more ownership flexibility.


Similar to C-corporations, S-corporations are taxed differently. S-corporations transfer their revenue, credits, and deductions to their shareholders, who then report the income on their tax returns rather than paying taxes at the corporate level. S-corporations are subject to several restrictions, including caps on the number of shareholders and the kinds of stock that can be issued.

Advantages and disadvantages of incorporating


Limited liability: In most cases, shareholders aren't held personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the company. Thus, if the company experiences financial difficulties, its assets are safeguarded.

Corporations keep ownership and management separate; stockholders own the business but do not run it. As a result, they can make investments in the industry without actively participating in its management.

Access to capital: Companies can raise money by issuing stock, aiding their expansion and growth.


Double taxation: C-corporations are subject to double taxation, which means that the corporation must pay taxes on its income and that any dividends paid to shareholders are subject to a double tax.

Complexity: Incorporating a firm may be difficult, drawn out, and expensive on the legal and administrative fronts.

Regulation: Corporations must abide by several legal obligations, including submitting South Dakota annual reports and having shareholder meetings. They are also subject to government restrictions.

Pre-incorporation Planning

Before incorporating a business, several crucial procedures must be performed to ensure that everything goes as planned and that the new organization is prepared for success. These actions comprise:

A. Choosing a suitable business name

An essential phase in the pre-incorporation planning procedure is choosing a business name. The name must be distinctive, memorable, and free from any trademark or copyright infringements belonging to other companies. Checking to see if the chosen name is available for use and has not previously been registered by another company is also crucial.

B. Deciding on the number of shares and their value

An essential phase in the pre-incorporation planning procedure is choosing a business name. The name must be distinctive, memorable, and free from any trademark or copyright infringements belonging to other companies. Checking to see if the chosen name is available for use and has not previously been registered by another company is also crucial.

C. Selecting the board of directors and officers

The board of directors and officers will make the corporation's management and critical business decisions. These people ought to be chosen for their knowledge of the field, their experience in it, their capacity for teamwork, and their ability to make choices that are in the business's best interests. A broad mix of people with various ideas and skill sets is essential.

D. Preparing bylaws and operating agreements

The bylaws and operational agreements are critical legal papers that specify how the corporation will function. Operating agreements define the duties and obligations of the shareholders, directors, and officials, while bylaws specify the guidelines for meetings, voting, and other significant actions. To ensure they adhere to state rules and regulations, these documents should be created before the incorporation procedure and evaluated by an attorney.

Step-by-Step Process to Form a Corporation in South Dakota

The following is a step-by-step procedure that can lead you through the process of South Dakota business formation:

Step 1: Name reservation and availability check

Ensure the intended corporate name is available and complies with South Dakota's naming regulations before submitting the Articles of Incorporation. To accomplish this, look up the name on the South Dakota Secretary of State's website or contact their office.

Step 2: File Articles of Incorporation

The next step is to file the Articles of Incorporation with the South Dakota Secretary of State. The Articles of Incorporation should include basic information about the corporation, such as the name, purpose, registered agent, and the number and type of shares.

Step 3: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires all corporations to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The EIN is necessary to create a corporate bank account for tax purposes.

Step 4: Complete the South Dakota Business Tax Application

To register for taxes, businesses operating in South Dakota must fill out the South Dakota Business Tax Application. This applies to all taxes, such as use tax and sales tax.

Step 5: File the Initial Report and Pay the Filing Fee

Corporations in South Dakota must submit an Initial Report and pay the filing fee within 90 days of submitting the Articles of Incorporation. Depending on the form of corporation, there are different fees.

Step 6: Create Corporate Bylaws

Corporate bylaws, which describe the policies and processes for managing the business, must be established by corporations. The board of directors should write the bylaws, and shareholders should then accept them.

Step 7: Hold the Organizational Meeting

Following the corporation's incorporation, a meeting should be called to elect the board of directors, approve the bylaws, and discuss other pertinent issues.

Step 8: Open a Corporate Bank Account

Registering a corporate bank account is advised to keep the business' money distinct from your finances. An EIN acquired in Step 3 will be necessary to open the account.

Step 9: Obtain necessary business licenses and permits

Corporations may need to seek rights and permissions to operate in South Dakota, depending on the type of business. This can include business licenses, zoning permissions, and permits for specific industries.

Ongoing Compliance and Maintenance

Annual report filing

The Secretary of State must receive annual reports from corporations in South Dakota by the first day of the second-month post the end of the fiscal year. The report details the corporation's officers, registered agents, and directors. $50 is the registration cost.

State and federal South Dakota tax compliance

South Dakota requires businesses to abide by both state and federal tax regulations. This entails paying all applicable taxes, such as sales, property, and state and federal income taxes. Additionally, corporations might need to have a state tax identification number.

Keeping corporate records and minutes

In order to incorporate in South Dakota, one must maintain complete records of their meetings, including minutes. Additionally, businesses must preserve thorough financial records for at least three years. Legal and financial fines may occur for failing to maintain proper records.

Dissolving a Corporation in South Dakota

Reasons for dissolution

Both voluntary and involuntary dissolution of a corporation is possible. The fulfillment of the corporation's purpose or the shareholders' choice to dissolve the corporation are two causes for voluntary dissolution. It could dissolve involuntarily if the corporation doesn't follow state regulations, including failing to submit yearly reports or pay taxes.

Procedure for dissolution

A company in South Dakota must submit Articles of Dissolution to the Secretary of State to voluntarily dissolve itself. The name of the company, the dissolution date, and a declaration that the organization has settled all debts and obligations, or has made plans to do so, must all be included in the Articles of Dissolution. The corporation must publish notice of its decision to dissolve in a local newspaper if it has not settled all of its debts and obligations. Usually, involuntary dissolution takes place as a result of state-initiated judicial actions.

Tax clearance and other requirements

The South Dakota Department of Revenue must grant tax clearance before a corporation may be dissolved. This implies that the corporation is responsible for paying all state taxes due, such as income tax, use tax, and sales tax. The Department of Revenue must receive the corporation's final tax returns. The business must also revoke any permissions or licenses with federal, state, or municipal authorities. Finally, the corporation is required by state law to divide its assets and property among its shareholders.

Tips and Resources for South Dakota Corporations

Utilizing local resources

South Dakota provides various business resources, including networking clubs, economic development organizations, and business assistance organizations. These sites can offer details on local laws, financial situations, and financing possibilities. The South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development, the South Dakota Small Business Development Centre, and regional chambers of commerce are a few examples of these resources.

Seeking professional assistance

It might be challenging to start and maintain a corporation. Therefore, it's crucial to obtain expert help when necessary. Working with lawyers, accountants, and business consultants who may offer advice on legal, financial, and operational difficulties may be part of this. Another smart move is to consult with other company owners who know your sector or region.

Leveraging online tools and services

Due to various tools and services, South Dakota businesses may function more successfully and efficiently online. For instance, the South Dakota Secretary of State provides online business document filing and search services. Online marketing and social media tools may help businesses reach clients and develop their brands. There are also online accounting and bookkeeping solutions that can assist companies in managing their money.


Forming a corporation in South Dakota can provide numerous benefits for entrepreneurs and business owners. The state offers a business-friendly environment with low taxes, minimal regulations, and strong asset protection laws. Additionally, the state has a well-educated workforce and access to capital, making it an attractive location for business expansion and growth. If you are considering starting a business, do not be discouraged by the challenges that come with it. With the right mindset, planning, and execution, you can succeed and achieve your Entrepreneurial goals.

We can help!

At Levy, we help early-stage founders streamline and automate regulatory and legal ops, HR, and finance so you can focus on what matters most — your business.

Like our content?

Subscribe to our blog to stay updated on new posts. Our blog covers advice, inspiration, and practical guides for early-stage founders navigating their start-up journeys.

Note: Our content is for general information purposes only. Levy does not provide legal, accounting, or certified expert advice. Consult a lawyer, CPA, or other professional for such services.

Get content like this, and more, sent directly to your inbox once a month.

Thank you for subscribing us!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.


Stressing the details?

Let levy handle this for you.
Learn more