Starting a company

How To Form A Corporation In Tennessee

Key highlights

  • Find out how to pick a unique name for your business that conforms with Tennessee's naming regulations.
  • Understand the process for submitting Articles of Incorporation to the Tennessee Secretary of State.
  • Find out how to establish a registered agent for your corporation qualified to accept legal and tax correspondence on your behalf.
  • Understand how to get any licenses or permissions required for your firm's operations.
  • Learn how to distribute stock and keep thorough records of all business dealings.
  • Understand how to maintain corporate records and adhere to Tennessee's yearly reporting obligations.
  • Learn how to conduct shareholder and board meetings and adhere to basic corporate governance practices.
  • Understand how to receive an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS and register for a state tax ID number to meet your federal and state tax requirements.
  • Learn how to safeguard your company's intellectual property (IP), such as its trademarks and patents.
  • Understand how to abide by any additional state and federal laws relevant to your organization's operations.

Choosing the best business structure is crucial for entrepreneurs since it may impact the company's tax duties, legal responsibilities, and ownership structure. When choosing a business structure, the owner's aims, the industry, and possible development possibilities must all be considered.

  • The business structure determines the company's and its owners' legal and financial responsibilities.
  • The degree of personal culpability for the owners may change depending on the choice of corporate structure.
  • The company's structure impacts the method taxes are paid and how much tax the business must pay.
  • The selected structure impacts the business's capacity to generate capital or obtain loans.
  • The chosen business structure also affects how simple adding or removing partners is.

To form a corporation in Tennessee is crucial and may significantly impact both the firm and its owners. A sole proprietorship, for instance, may be the most straightforward and economical form, but the owner is subject to unrestricted personal liability. On the other hand, a corporation offers its owners limited liability protection at the expense of increased administrative and tax compliance costs.

The manner the firm is taxed is also impacted by its structure. For instance, a sole proprietorship and a partnership are pass-through businesses, meaning the owner's tax return is where the earnings and losses are disclosed. Contrarily, corporations are taxed independently from their owners, which may lead to double taxation.

Types of Corporations

Depending on their legal requirements and objectives, company owners in Tennessee can create a variety of organizations. Let's dive into the types of corporations:


The most typical type of company is a C-corporation, a separate legal entity from its owners. Shareholders are protected from limited liability. Thus they are not held personally liable for the corporation's obligations. C-Corporations are subject to corporate taxation; shareholders' dividends and capital gains are subject to tax.


Pass-through taxes are possible with some corporations, such as S-Corporations. As a result, the business does not have to pay federal income tax; instead, the gains and losses are passed through to the shareholders' tax returns. The maximum number of shareholders and the types of stockholders who may own shares are both capped for S-Corporations.

Non-profit corporation

A non-profit corporation is a type of corporation that is formed for charitable, religious, educational, or scientific purposes. Unlike other corporations, a non-profit corporation does not have shareholders, and it does not issue stock. Instead, it has members, and its profits are reinvested in the organization's mission.

Step-by-Step Guide to Forming a Corporation

Tennessee corporation foramtion offers personal liability protection, possible tax benefits, and the capacity to generate capital via selling shares, forming a corporation can be a crucial first step. But depending on the state where the company is based, the corporation-formation procedure might be complicated. This step-by-step tutorial will provide a rundown of the essential functions for establishing a corporation, such as choosing a company name, submitting articles of incorporating in Tennessee, drafting bylaws, acquiring required licenses and permissions, and issuing stock to shareholders.

Choosing a unique name

Selecting a distinctive name conforming to state rules is the first step in creating a business. To be sure that another company is not already using the name, it is crucial to do a comprehensive search.

Appointing a registered agent

A registered agent is a person or business the corporation chooses to receive critical notices and legal papers. The registered agent in Tennessee must be either a Tennessee resident or a registered business organization permitted for Tennessee business registration.

Preparing and filing Articles of Incorporation

The Articles of Incorporation establish the corporation's existence, which also describes the organization's goals, organizational structure, and ownership. The Tennessee Secretary of State's office must receive the Articles of Incorporation and the filing fee.

Creating corporate bylaws

Corporate bylaws are internal policies and guidelines that control decisions, whether officers and directors are chosen, and how business is done during meetings. The needs and objectives of the organization should be reflected in the bylaws.

Obtaining necessary business licenses and permits

Depending on the type of business and industry, the corporation might need licenses and permissions to function in Tennessee. Before starting operations, it's crucial to study and secure the relevant licenses and permissions because these criteria differ by industry and location.

Registering for state taxes

The corporation must register with the Tennessee Department of Revenue to receive a tax identification number, collect and pay Tennessee state taxes, and collect and pay federal taxes. Sales tax, usage tax, and business tax are all included in this.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Incorporating

A business must be incorporated to become a separate legal entity from its owners. This thing called a company has its rights, responsibilities, and liabilities. Incorporating a firm has benefits and drawbacks, which we will discuss in this introduction.

Limited liability protection

The limited liability protection it offers is one of the key benefits of establishing a firm. As shareholders are often exempt from being held personally accountable for the corporation's debts or obligations, their assets are safeguarded in the case of litigation or bankruptcy.

Tax implications

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There are both tax advantages and downsides to incorporating a firm. For instance, C-Corporations are subject to double taxation, with shareholders paying taxes on dividends and the business paying taxes on its income. However, s-Corporations and some other corporate structures allow income and losses to be passed through to shareholders' tax returns, possibly lowering the overall tax burden.

Ownership flexibility

If incorporated, a company can have more ownership options and the opportunity to generate money by issuing shares. The firm can issue new shares to obtain extra funds, and shareholders can transfer or sell their interests.

Administrative complexity

Incorporation can be more complicated and expensive compared to alternative company formats like sole proprietorships or partnerships. To keep its legal existence, the company must adhere to several legal and regulatory criteria, including submitting Articles of Incorporation, establishing bylaws, and conducting regular meetings.

Incorporating a firm offers benefits and drawbacks, to sum up. Before electing to incorporate, company owners should thoroughly assess the requirements and goals of their operation. While limited liability protection and ownership flexibility are provided by incorporation, it also adds to administrative complexity and may have tax ramifications.

Maintaining a Corporation in Tennessee

A corporation must be adequately maintained once established to retain its legal standing and safeguard the company and its owners. A company must comply with the following requirements in Tennessee:

Annual reporting requirements

The annual report must be submitted by the first day of the fourth month after the entity's fiscal year has ended. For instance, the annual report must be submitted by April 1 after the fiscal year closes on December 31.

  • Charge: The yearly report must be filed, and there is a filing charge. The charge can be paid online or by mail and varies according to the kind of business.\
  • Information required: The entity's name and address, the registered agent's name and address, and the officers' and directors' names and addresses must all be included in the annual report. Limited liability corporations (LLCs) are also required to divulge details regarding the management and members.
  • Non-profit organizations: In Tennessee, non-profit organizations must also submit yearly reports. The organization's purpose, programs, and financial statements must all be covered in these reports.
  • Fines: The entity may be dissolved if the annual report is not submitted by the due date, and penalties may apply.

Updating corporate records

Maintaining accurate and current business records includes bylaws, minutes from shareholder and board meetings, and other crucial papers. These documents should be preserved in a safe area and updated regularly to reflect any changes in the corporate structure or activities.

Complying with state compliance and regulations

It's also essential to comply with all state regulations concerning your corporation's business activities. Depending on your industry and business model, specific permits or licenses may be required by the state. Research and obtain any necessary licenses or permits before conducting business.

  • Non-profit organizations: In Tennessee, non-profit organizations must also submit yearly reports. The organization's purpose, programs, and financial statements must all be covered in these reports.
  • Tennessee Business Tax Act: This legislation governs how businesses that operate in Tennessee are taxed.
  • Tennessee Employment legislation: This legislation outlines the duties and responsibilities of both employers and employees and the requirements for overtime compensation, minimum wages, and anti-discrimination measures.
  • Tennessee Unemployment Insurance legislation: This legislation lays forth the criteria for Tennessee employees' eligibility for unemployment benefits and payouts.
  • Workers' compensation legislation in Tennessee: This law creates a benefits system to compensate employees who are hurt or become handicapped at work.
  • Tennessee Securities Act: This legislation mandates registration for securities offerings and governs the selling of securities in Tennessee.
  • Tennessee Professional Corporation Act: This statute governs the establishment and operation of businesses that practice specific professions, including law, medicine, and accountancy.
  • The Tennessee Business Corporation Act - It lays forth the guidelines for creating, administrating, and abolishing business companies in Tennessee.
  • Tennessee Sales Tax Act: This legislation governs how companies doing business in Tennessee must collect and remit sales tax.


A distinctive name, naming a registered agent, submitting Articles of Incorporation, drafting corporate bylaws, acquiring required licenses and permissions, and registering for state taxes are all crucial procedures in forming a company in Tennessee. While there are numerous advantages to incorporating a firm, including limited liability protection and ownership flexibility, it also adds to administrative complexity and may have tax repercussions.

Once a company is established, it is crucial to manage it effectively by adhering to state laws, submitting yearly reports as required, and keeping corporate documents up to date. A corporation's legal status, owners, and commercial operations may all be safeguarded by maintaining it properly. To ensure that all criteria are completed, and their organization is prepared for success, entrepreneurs considering incorporating a corporation in Tennessee are recommended to speak with legal and tax experts. During the creation and upkeep of a corporation, a legal or financial expert might offer helpful counsel and direction.

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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.

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