Starting a Corporation in Hawaii | What You Need to Know

Start a Corporation in Hawaii

In Hawaii, starting a corporation can benefit entrepreneurs looking to establish a separate legal entity for their business. Incorporating your business provides liability protection for its owners and offers potential tax benefits and a professional image. This comprehensive guide will walk you through Starting a Corporation in Hawaii, from choosing a corporate name to fulfilling ongoing compliance requirements. Some people consider starting a corporation since it has advantages and benefits rather than Starting an LLC in Hawaii.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you gain knowledge in starting a corporation with thorough research and market study. It would be best to cross-check all the factors in this article before forming a corporation.

What is a Corporation in Hawaii?

A corporation in Hawaii is a business organization recognized as a separate legal entity from its owners, also known as shareholders. When a corporation is formed, shareholders invest capital by purchasing shares of stock and, in return, become partial company owners. The corporation is managed by a board of directors elected by the shareholders to oversee the company’s operations and make important decisions. Corporations in Hawaii are required to have at least Three directors. One of the main advantages of a corporation in Hawaii is that it provides limited liability protection to its shareholders, meaning their assets are not at risk if the corporation incurs debt or is legally sued.

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Common Types of Corporations

Before you start with a corporation, you should know what type of corporation you will form. There are several different forms of corporations you can take into consideration, depending on your corporation’s objectives and ownership structure.

C-Corporation

C-Corporation is the most known type of incorporation. They have almost all corporate distinguishing characteristics. Profits are distributed to corporate owners who are taxed at an individual level. The corporation is taxed similarly to a business unit.

S-Corporation

S-Corporation in Hawaii is set up similarly to a C-corporation but has different tax implications and owner limits. An S-Corporation has no more than 100 stockholders and is not taxed separately. These business units must also file paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to obtain their status.

Nonprofit Corporation

Religious, educational, and charity institutions frequently use nonprofit businesses to run their operations without making a profit. Thus, a nonprofit corporation is exempt from paying taxes. The nonprofit organization’s gifts, contributions, or cash are reinvested in the company to fund its growth, future endeavors, or operations.

It is recommended to Start a Corporation in Hawaii if you would like to provide limited liability protection to your shareholders rather than Hawaii LLC. However, you may want to consult to LegalZoom’s Business Attorney before starting a business.

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How to Start a Corporation in Hawaii

To start a corporation in Hawaii, you must follow the below steps that, include choosing a corporate name, hiring a Resident Agent, appointing directors, filing for Articles of Incorporation, creating corporate bylaws, holding the initial board of directors, issuing stock, obtaining required licenses and permits, registering with state tax agencies, and annual reporting and ongoing compliance. All these steps are basic ones. It can be changed depending on the type of corporation you form and the nature of your business.

Step 1: Choosing a Corporate Name

The first step in starting a corporation is choosing an available name that complies with Hawaii naming rules. Most states require that the name of a corporation be distinguishable from other registered business names and include a corporate designator such as “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” or an abbreviation thereof.

Here are some guidelines you must follow while naming your corporation in Hawaii-

  • Your business name must contain entity identifiers, such as “Incorporated,” “Limited,” “Corporation,” or “Company,” or an abbreviation, such as “Inc.,” “Co.,” or “Ltd.”
  • Exclude any words in your business name, such as “Trust,” “Bank,” “Credit Union,” or “Trustee,” or words related to a government agency, such as “FBI,” “State Department,” or “Treasury.”

To check the availability of your desired corporate name, you can search the Hawaii Secretary of State‘s business name database and Business Name Search in Hawaii. If the name is available, you may choose to reserve it for a specific period of 120 days by filing a name reservation application and paying the online name reservation fee of $10 and mail name reservation fee of $10. If your corporation plans to operate under a name other than its legal name, you may also need to register a fictitious or “doing business as” (DBA) name.

The DBA filing can be done by several methods, online, fax, email, by mail, or in-person, which costs around $50. In addition, the DBA’s validity in Hawaii is five years, which you can file in Hawaii Secretary of State.

You can check out How to File a DBA in Hawaii for clearer understanding.

Step 2: Hire a Resident Agent

Hiring a Resident Agent is essential in starting a corporation. Resident Agent is a person or company responsible for receiving important legal documents, tax notices, and other correspondence on behalf of your corporation. They ensure that your corporation remains compliant with state regulations and requirements. There are Hawaii Resident Agent Services to check in forming Hawaii Corporation. We reviewed some of the best-registered agent services and provided features as an add-on with their packages.

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Step 3: Appointing Directors

Corporations in Hawaii are required to have at least Three directors, though some states may require more. Directors are responsible for overseeing the corporation’s management and making major decisions on behalf of the company. In Hawaii, directors must be at least 18 years old and do not need to be state residents.

When appointing directors, it is essential to consider individuals who are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and capable of making sound business decisions. Maintaining a record of appointed directors, including their names, addresses, and terms of service, is also a good idea.

Step 4: Preparing and Filing Articles of Incorporation

After you appoint the initial board of directors in your Hawaii corporation, the next step is to write and file a Articles of Incorporation. In writing, the Hawaii Articles of Incorporation, the corporation name, principal place of business, the purpose of business, Resident Agent contact information, and the names and addresses of incorporators and initial board members, should be written.

To officially form your Hawaii corporation, you must prepare and file Articles of Incorporation with the Hawaii Secretary of State. The Articles of Incorporation is a legal document that outlines essential information about your corporation, such as its name, address, purpose, and details about its stock.

The specific requirements for Articles of Incorporation vary by state, but generally, the document must include the following:

  • The corporate name
  • The purpose of the corporation
  • The name and address of the registered agent
  • The names and addresses of the initial directors
  • The number of authorized shares and their par value
  • The name and address of the incorporator(s)

Once the Articles of Incorporation are complete, please submit them to the Hawaii Secretary of State’s office, along with the required filing fee. Fees vary by state, but in Hawaii, the Articles of Incorporation filing fee costs around $50 for filing online, by mail, fax, or by email. It is crucial to provide accurate and complete information on this document, as errors or omissions may result in delays or rejection of your filing.

  • Online Filing: Get the online form from Secretary of State, fill it up, and submit. Don’t refresh the page during the process. It will erase everything. Email it to [email protected].
  • Offline filing: Send the form by mail to Office of the Secretary of State, 450 N 4th Street, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0080 or Fax it to (808) 586-2733.

Step 5: Creating Corporate Bylaws

Now you are done filing Articles of Incorporation in Hawaii, the next step is to draft corporate bylaws. While not always required by law, creating corporate bylaws is essential in establishing Hawaii corporation. Bylaws are the internal rules and regulations that govern the corporation’s operations and management. They outline the rights and responsibilities of directors, officers, and shareholders and provide guidelines for holding meetings and making decisions.

Key provisions to include in your corporate bylaws may include:

  • The corporation’s purpose and principal place of business
  • The roles and responsibilities of directors, officers, and shareholders
  • The process for appointing and removing directors and officers
  • The procedures for holding annual and special meetings
  • The methods for amending the bylaws and Articles of Incorporation
  • The procedures for issuing stock and maintaining shareholder records

Once the bylaws are drafted, they must be adopted by the corporation’s board of directors. Keeping a copy of the bylaws with your corporate records and updating them to reflect changes in the corporation or applicable laws is essential.

Step 6: Holding the Initial Board of Directors Meeting

The initial board of directors meeting is a crucial milestone for your Hawaii corporation. During this meeting, the directors will adopt the corporate bylaws, elect officers, and make other key decisions to set the foundation for the corporation’s operations.

The agenda for the initial board meeting may include the following:

  • Adopting the corporate bylaws
  • Ratifying any pre-incorporation actions taken by the incorporator(s)
  • Electing corporate officers (e.g., president, vice president, secretary, treasurer)
  • Designating a corporate bank account
  • Authorizing the issuance of stock
  • Approving necessary licenses, permits, and tax registrations

It is essential to keep detailed minutes of the initial board meeting, documenting the decisions made and actions taken. These minutes should be stored with your corporate records.

Step 7: Issuing Stock

Corporations in Hawaii are required to issue stock to their owners, also known as shareholders. When preparing to issue stock, you must determine the number of authorized shares and their par value, as outlined in your Articles of Incorporation. You may choose to issue different classes of stock, each with its rights and privileges, such as voting rights and dividend preferences.

The process for issuing stock typically involves the board of directors approving a stock issuance resolution, determining the price per share, and recording the issuance in the corporation’s stock ledger. Maintaining accurate and up-to-date records of all stock transactions, including transfers and cancellations, is crucial to ensure proper ownership tracking and compliance with securities laws.

Step 8: Obtaining Required Licenses and Permits

Depending on the nature of your corporation’s activities and location, you may need to obtain various licenses and permits to operate legally. These may include federal, state, and local requirements, such as:

  • A Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax reporting and employee withholding purposes.
  • State sales and use tax registration, if your corporation sells taxable goods or services
  • Professional or occupational licenses for specific industries (e.g., healthcare, construction, food service)
  • Hawaii Business Licenses, zoning permits, and health department approvals

Researching and obtaining all required Hawaii licenses and permits before commencing operations and maintaining compliance with any ongoing renewal or reporting requirements is essential.

Step 10: Registering with State Tax Agencies

In addition to obtaining licenses and permits, your Hawaii corporation may also need to register with various tax agencies. This may include registering for sales and use tax, obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in Hawaii for payroll tax purposes, and filing state income tax and franchise tax returns.

An EIN will serve as the tax ID for your Hawaii corporation. EIN can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a 9-digit number similar to Social Security Number. EIN, however, is distinct from SSN. It is only used for business-related activities, particularly for submitting general taxes. The form must be completed and uploaded to the IRS website.

The application of an EIN in Hawaii can be through the following:

  • Apply Online- The online EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN.
  • Apply by Fax- Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number), after ensuring that Form SS-4 contains all of the required information.
  • Apply by Mail- The EIN application Form SS-4 can be filed via mail. The processing time frame to receive the mail is four weeks.
  • Apply by Telephone-International Applicants – International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.

Each state has tax requirements, so consult a tax professional or Hawaii Department of Taxation for guidance on your specific obligations.

Step 11: Annual Reporting and Ongoing Compliance

Once your Hawaii corporation is up and running, you must fulfill ongoing reporting and compliance requirements to maintain good standing. This may include filing Annual Report with the Hawaii Secretary of State, updating your corporate records to reflect changes in directors or officers, and staying current on any required licenses or permits.

In addition, it is essential to stay informed about changes in corporate laws and regulations that may impact your business and to seek professional advice when needed.

Paying Your Taxes in Hawaii

Even if you have established your corporation in Hawaii, pay your taxes and keep everything up to date so you won’t pay any penalty. Unlike an LLC, there is a corporate tax that every corporation in Hawaii has to pay. On the other hand, they must pay income taxes based on their business income. Some other types of taxes in Hawaii are sales tax, franchise tax (not applicable to all the states), and other state taxes.

Cost of Forming a Corporation in Hawaii

In forming a corporation in Hawaii, a filing and Annual fee must be paid. Without it, your corporation won’t operate. A corporation’s initial filing fee may vary from state to state. However, in Hawaii, it costs $50 for filing online, by mail, fax, or by email. The corporation in Hawaii also has to file an Annual Report (though it might not be mandatory, it is recommended to file one). Ensure you comply with all the necessary fees and costs so your corporation will run successfully and smoothly.

FAQs

What is a corporation in Hawaii?
A corporation in Hawaii is a type of business entity that is formed by filing certain documents with the state’s business registration division.
How do I choose a name for my Hawaii corporation?
Your Hawaii corporation’s name must be distinguishable from the names of all other active business entities in the state. You can check the availability of your desired name using the state’s business name search tool.
Do I need a registered agent for my Hawaii corporation?
Yes, your Hawaii corporation must have a registered agent who is authorized to receive legal documents on behalf of the company. The registered agent can be an individual or a business entity.
How do I file my Hawaii corporation’s articles of incorporation?
You can file your Hawaii corporation’s articles of incorporation online through the state’s business registration portal, or by mail.
How much does it cost to form a Hawaii corporation?
The filing fee for Hawaii corporations is $50. There may be additional fees for expedited processing or other services.
How long does it take to form a Hawaii corporation?
The processing time for Hawaii corporation filings varies, but typically takes several weeks.
What information do I need to include in my Hawaii corporation’s articles of incorporation?
Your Hawaii corporation’s articles of incorporation must include the name of the corporation, its purpose, its duration, its initial directors or incorporators, and the number and type of shares of stock it is authorized to issue.
Can I reserve a name for my Hawaii corporation before filing my articles of incorporation?
Yes, you can reserve a name for your Hawaii corporation for up to 120 days by filing a name reservation request with the state.
Do I need to have a board of directors for my Hawaii corporation?
Yes, a Hawaii corporation must have a board of directors who oversee the company’s operations and make major business decisions.
Can I be the only director of my Hawaii corporation?
Yes, a Hawaii corporation can have a single director, although it is recommended to have at least two for administrative purposes.
Do I need to include my Hawaii corporation’s bylaws in its articles of incorporation?
No, the bylaws of your Hawaii corporation are not required to be filed with the state. They are an internal document that outlines how the company will be run.
How do I obtain a business license for my Hawaii corporation?
You can obtain a business license for your Hawaii corporation from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
What kinds of taxes do Hawaii corporations have to pay?
Hawaii corporations may be subject to federal and state income tax, as well as various other taxes depending on their activities and location.
How do I obtain an EIN for my Hawaii corporation?
You can obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your Hawaii corporation from the IRS.
What are the ongoing requirements for my Hawaii corporation?
Ongoing requirements for Hawaii corporations include filing annual reports, holding annual meetings of shareholders and directors, and maintaining proper records and tax documents.
Can I change the name of my Hawaii corporation after it is formed?
Yes, the name of your Hawaii corporation can be changed by filing an amendment to its articles of incorporation with the state.
What happens if I don’t file my Hawaii corporation’s annual report?
Failure to file your Hawaii corporation’s annual report could result in penalties, fines, and eventual dissolution of the company.
Can I convert my Hawaii corporation to a different type of entity?
Yes, Hawaii corporations can be converted to different types of entities, such as a limited liability company (LLC).
How do I dissolve my Hawaii corporation?
To dissolve your Hawaii corporation, you must file Articles of Dissolution with the state’s business registration division.
Can a Hawaii corporation have multiple classes of stock?
Yes, Hawaii corporations can have multiple classes of stock, such as common and preferred stock.
Are there residency requirements for Hawaii corporation directors?
No, Hawaii corporation directors do not have to be residents of Hawaii or the United States.
Can my Hawaii corporation own property?
Yes, Hawaii corporations can own property in their own name.
What is a foreign corporation in Hawaii?
A foreign corporation in Hawaii is another company that is registered in a different state or country, but is doing business in Hawaii.
Do foreign corporations need to register in Hawaii?
Yes, foreign corporations must register with the Hawaii business registration division if they are doing business in the state.
Can I register a foreign corporation in Hawaii online?
Yes, you can register a foreign corporation in Hawaii online through the state’s business registration portal.
What is a business registration number in Hawaii?
A business registration number (BRN) in Hawaii is a unique identifier assigned to each business entity registered with the state.
How do I obtain a business registration number for my Hawaii corporation?
Your Hawaii corporation will be assigned a business registration number when you file its articles of incorporation with the state.
What is a Hawaii tax identification number?
A Hawaii tax identification number is a unique identifier assigned to businesses by the Department of Taxation for tax purposes.
Do I need a Hawaii tax identification number for my corporation?
Yes, your Hawaii corporation will need a tax identification number in order to pay state taxes and fulfill reporting requirements.
What is a corporation?
A corporation is a legal entity separate and distinct from its owners.
Can I start a corporation in Hawaii?
Yes, you can start a corporation in Hawaii.
What are the registration requirements for starting a corporation in Hawaii?
You need to file articles of incorporation with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
What is the filing fee for articles of incorporation in Hawaii?
The filing fee for articles of incorporation in Hawaii is $50.
Does Hawaii require a registered agent for a corporation?
Yes, Hawaii requires a registered agent for a corporation.
Can the registered agent for a Hawaii corporation be an individual or must it be a business?
The registered agent for a Hawaii corporation can be an individual or a business.
Is there a minimum number of shareholders required to start a Hawaii corporation?
No, there is no minimum number of shareholders required to start a Hawaii corporation.
Can the shareholders of a Hawaii corporation be foreign nationals?
Yes, the shareholders of a Hawaii corporation can be foreign nationals.
Can I reserve a corporation name prior to filing the articles of incorporation in Hawaii?
Yes, you can reserve a corporation name prior to filing the articles of incorporation in Hawaii.
How long does a name reservation last in Hawaii?
A name reservation in Hawaii lasts for 120 days.
What is an LLC in Hawaii?
An LLC, or a Limited Liability Company, is a type of legal entity formed in Hawaii that provides liability protection for its owners.
Can a corporation be converted to an LLC in Hawaii?
Yes, a corporation can be converted to an LLC in Hawaii.
What is a certificate of good standing?
A certificate of good standing is a document that confirms a corporation is authorized to do business in Hawaii.
Can I obtain a certificate of good standing for a Hawaii corporation online?
Yes, you can obtain a certificate of good standing for a Hawaii Corporation online through the Hagatna (Guam) office.
Does Hawaii require corporations to have bylaws?
Yes, Hawaii requires corporations to have bylaws.
Can the number of directors of a Hawaii corporation be changed?
Yes, the number of directors of a Hawaii corporation can be changed.
What is the minimum number of directors required for a Hawaii corporation?
A Hawaii corporation must have at least one director.
Can the directors of a Hawaii corporation be foreign nationals?
Yes, the directors of a Hawaii corporation can be foreign nationals.
Does Hawaii impose a franchise tax on corporations?
Yes, Hawaii imposes a franchise tax on corporations.
Are corporations in Hawaii allowed to issue stock?
Yes, corporations in Hawaii are allowed to issue stock.
What is a articles of incorporation?
Articles of incorporation are documents filed with a state agency which recognize the creation of a corporation and specify its basic operational structure and policies.
Is a Hawaii corporation required to have a physical office location?
Yes, a Hawaii corporation is required to have a physical office location.
What benefits are there to incorporating in Hawaii as opposed to other states?
Hawaii has some tax benefits for businesses with income-producing activities focused outside of the state.
Does a Hawaii corporation need to get a business permit?
Yes, a Hawaii corporation needs to get a business permit.
Are Hawaii corporations subject to state taxes if they conduct business in other states?
Yes, Hawaii corporations are subject to state taxes if they conduct business in other states.
What is the deadline for filing annual reports for a Hawaii corporation?
The deadline for filing annual reports for a Hawaii corporation is the last day of the quarter following the corporation’s fiscal year-end.
Can I file annual reports for my Hawaii corporation online?
Yes, you can file annual reports for your Hawaii corporation online.
Can a Hawaii corporation be formed for a nonprofit purpose?
Yes, a Hawaii corporation can be formed for a nonprofit purpose.
What is the foreign qualification process for a Hawaii corporation to do business in another state?
A Hawaii corporation must register with the other state as a foreign corporation in order to do business there.

Also Read

How to Save Money While Forming Your Hawaii Corporation

One of the first steps to save money is to do your research and plan ahead. Understanding the requirements and processes involved in forming a corporation in Hawaii can help you avoid unnecessary costs. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the different types of corporations and choose the one that best suits your business needs. Additionally, consider consulting with a professional or utilizing online resources to help guide you through the process and avoid costly mistakes.

When it comes to filing your documents with the state, there are ways to save on registration and annual fees. For example, you can opt to file your paperwork online instead of in person, which can often save you on administrative costs. Additionally, consider carefully reviewing your articles of incorporation to ensure that all information is accurate and complete, as errors and omissions can lead to additional fees later down the line.

Another way to save money while forming your Hawaii corporation is to be strategic about the timing of your business launch. Consider launching your business towards the end of the year to avoid prorated annual fees. Additionally, consider taking advantage of any available discounts or promotions offered by the state to help offset some of the costs associated with forming your corporation.

Furthermore, consider shopping around for professional services such as legal, accounting, and business consulting services. While it may be tempting to hire the first service provider you come across, it can pay off to compare prices and services to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money. Many professionals offer package deals or discounts for bundling services, so take the time to explore your options before making a decision.

Lastly, don’t forget to consider the ongoing costs associated with maintaining your Hawaii corporation. This includes annual reports, business licenses, and compliance with state regulations. By staying on top of these requirements and planning ahead, you can avoid costly penalties and fees that can quickly add up over time.

In conclusion, forming a corporation in Hawaii doesn’t have to break the bank. By doing your research, planning ahead, and being strategic about your expenses, you can save money while still setting up a legitimate and successful business. Remember that every penny saved during the formation process is a penny that can be reinvested back into your business to help it grow and thrive.

Conclusion

Starting a corporation in Hawaii involves several critical steps, from choosing a corporate name to fulfilling ongoing compliance requirements. Following the steps outlined in this guide and seeking professional advice when needed, you can successfully establish your Hawaii corporation and enjoy the benefits of limited liability, potential tax savings, and a professional business image.

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