Start a California Corporation in 10 Easy Steps with Inc Authority

Inc Authority is a trusted and reputable company that can help you start a California Corporation for free. It has helped form over 250K businesses so far and has a proven track record of success.

Start Your C-Corp Today

1-Year Registered Agent Service Free

Free review and filing of your Articles of Incorporation in California.

Free registered agent service with all business formation plans for 1 year.

Get all your support queries answered by experts, by email or phone.

Things to Consider Before Starting a C-Corp in California

A California Corporation offers several features and benefits. Unlike an S-Corp, which restricts the types of shareholders and the number of shareholders, a C-Corp has no limitations on ownership.

Still, there are things to consider before you decide to start a Corporation in California.

Here are some things you should know:

  • California imposes a franchise tax on Corporations, which is based on the company’s net income or net worth, whichever is greater.
  • California law mandates that Corporations must have a registered agent within the state as the official point of contact.
  • California corporations must adopt corporate bylaws, which serve as the internal rules and regulations governing the company’s operations.
  • A California Corporation must also comply with the state’s securities laws if they plan to raise capital by issuing stocks or securities.

Forming a C-Corp in California offers flexible ownership options, flexibility in stock classes, and potential for going public, making it an attractive choice for entrepreneurs.

Inc. 5000



USA Based Support


Processing Time

Choose a Unique Name for Your C-Corp

Choose a name for your California Corporation that is unique and distinguishable from other registered business names in the state. It is important to avoid names that are too similar to existing businesses to avoid any potential legal issues.

California has specific requirements for naming a C-Corporation. The name should include one of the following words or abbreviations: “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Corp.,” or “Inc” to indicate the entity is a Corporation.

Choose a Unique Name
Conduct a Name Availability Search

Conduct a Name Availability Search

Before finalizing your chosen name, it is important to ensure that the name is available. Start by visiting the official website of the California Secretary of State and use the search tool to see if any entities have similar names.

If your desired name is already in use, you will need to choose an alternative name for your C-Corporation. Repeat the search process with different name variations until you find an available and distinguishable name you can use.

Appoint a California Registered Agent

Appointing a registered agent is important when forming a C-Corporation in California. A registered agent is responsible for receiving important legal documents and acting as a point of contact between your Corporation and the state.

When filing the Articles of Incorporation with the California Secretary of State’s office, you will be required to provide the registered agent’s information. This includes their name, business address in California, contact details, and so on.

Appoint a California Registered Agent
Prepare and File Articles of Incorporation

Prepare and File Articles of Incorporation

The Articles of Incorporation is a legal document that officially establishes your C-Corp with the state of California. Prepare and file the Articles of Incorporation with the California Secretary of State online or through their office.

These provide essential information about your C-Corp, such as the name, purpose, registered agent information, types of shares authorized, etc. You can file the articles online or by mail & pay the filing fee for California Incorporation.

Pay Filing Fee

California Secretary of State’s office typically offers multiple payment methods to submit the filing fee. Common options include online payment, check, or money order. Determine which payment method is most convenient for you.

If you choose to pay the filing fee online, navigate to the appropriate online payment portal on the California Secretary of State’s website. To pay the fee by check or money order, make the payment payable to the “Secretary of State.”

Pay Filing Fee
Create Corporate Bylaws

Create Corporate Bylaws

Corporate bylaws serve as the internal rulebook for your C-Corporation. They provide guidance on key aspects of the corporation’s governance, such as shareholder meetings, election of directors and officers, and more.

Tailor your Corporation’s bylaws to the specific needs and requirements of your business. Ensure that each provision is accurately and precisely worded to avoid ambiguity or confusion. Ensure that you review the bylaws periodically.

Hold an Organizational Meeting

Determine a date, time, and location for your first board meeting. It’s common for this organizational meeting to be held shortly after the filing of the Articles of Incorporation, but it can be scheduled at a later date as well.

Notify the initial directors, officers, and any other board members who should attend your first board meeting. Provide them with sufficient notice, typically at least a few days in advance, to ensure their availability for the meeting.

Hold an Organizational Meeting
Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN, aka Federal Tax ID, is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is necessary for tax purposes and other use cases. Applying for an EIN is a pretty straightforward process, and can be done via the IRS website. 

The EIN is used to identify your C-Corp for tax filings and other business activities. It’s an essential requirement for C-Corps to establish their legal and financial identity and fulfill their tax-related responsibilities in the state of California.

Register for State Taxes and Permits

Familiarize yourself with the tax obligations and permit requirements that apply to your C-Corporation in California. The specific taxes you need to pay and permits you need depend on factors like your industry, business location, and so on.

If your California Corporation requires specific permits or licenses, follow the application process outlined by the relevant regulatory bodies. This may involve submitting additional documentation and undergoing background checks.

Register for State Taxes and Permits
Fulfill Ongoing Compliance Requirements

Fulfill Ongoing Compliance Requirements

Forming a California Corporation involves complying with ongoing obligations to maintain its legal status. This involves creating corporate bylaws and holding regular shareholder and director meetings from time to time, and more.

You will also need to comply with tax obligations at the federal, state, and local levels, including filing corporate tax returns and paying any applicable taxes. Adhering to applicable employment and labor laws is also important.

Why Should You Choose Inc Authority to Form a California Corporation?

Forming a Corporation in California can be complex. Our trusted partner, Inc Authority, is well-versed in the legal requirements and processes involved in forming a California Corporation. Here are some reasons why you should choose Inc Authority.

100% Free

Inc Authority provides free business formation services for forming a Corporation in California. This can be advantageous for individuals or businesses looking for a cost-effective option to initiate the process of forming a C-Corporation in California.



Setting up a California Corporation involves a lot of tedious paperwork, legal documents, and administrative tasks. By using a business formation service provider, you can save time and effort by letting their team of experts handle these tasks on your behalf.



Inc Authority can help ensure that your C-Corporation is formed correctly and in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations. It can assist with preparing and filing the necessary documents, reducing the chances of errors leading to complications.

Start Your C-Corp

Limited Liability Protection

One of the primary benefits of a C-Corp is the limited liability protection it provides to its shareholders. A Corporation is a separate legal entity, which means that shareholders are generally not personally liable for its debts.

If the C-Corp faces financial difficulties, creditors cannot go after the personal assets of shareholders to satisfy the business debts. The personal liability of shareholders is limited to the amount of their investment in the business.

Limited Liability Protection
Easy Access to Capital

Easy Access to Capital

C-Corps have various avenues to raise capital. They can issue stock to investors, which allows them to attract equity financing from a broad range of sources, including venture capitalists and angel investors, among others.

Additionally, a California Corporation can take on debt by issuing bonds or obtaining loans from financial institutions or banks. The ability to raise capital easily is particularly advantageous for businesses with high growth potential.

Perpetual Existence

Unlike other business entities, such as an S-Corporation, a Sole Proprietorship, or a Partnership, C-Corps have perpetual existence. A Corporation’s life is not dependent on the owners, as ownership can be easily transferred via shares.

Even if a shareholder sells their stock or passes away, the Corporation can continue to exist and operate under new ownership. This provides stability and continuity for the business and allows for long-term strategic business planning.

Perpetual Existence
Ownership Transferability

Ownership Transferability

C-Corps offer great flexibility when it comes to transferring ownership. Shares of a Corporation can be easily bought, sold, or transferred between shareholders or third parties, allowing for the smooth transfer of ownership interests. 

This feature is especially beneficial for businesses with multiple owners or when shareholders want to bring in new investors or exit the company. The ownership transferability of C-Corps makes them attractive to potential investors.

Attractive to Investors

Corporations are often preferred by investors due to the potential for high returns on investment and the clear structure of ownership. The ability to issue different classes of stock allows for customized investment opportunities. 

Corporations are appealing to investors because they can offer preferred stock, which gives certain benefits, such as receiving dividends and priority in getting their money back if the company is liquidated or goes bankrupt.

Attractive to Investors
Employee Benefits

Employee Benefits

A California Corporation can offer many tax and other benefits to its employees. It can, for instance, offer health insurance plans, retirement benefits, stock options, and employee stock purchase plans, among other perks.

These benefits can help C-Corps attract and retain top talent, building a motivated and dedicated workforce. By providing these benefits, C-Corps demonstrate their commitment to the well-being and growth of their employees.

Tax Deductions

While C-Corps are subject to corporate income tax, they offer certain tax advantages as well. C-Corps can deduct a wide range of business expenses, including employee salaries, reducing their total taxable income and tax liability.

Also, C-Corps have the potential to retain earnings within the company,which saves taxes. This feature can be particularly advantageous for businesses that want to reinvest profits or accumulate capital for future growth and expansion.

Tax Deductions
Professional Image and Credibility

Professional Image and Credibility

By forming a C-Corp, a business establishes itself as a separate legal entity, distinct from its owners. This separation conveys a sense of stability and permanence, assuring clients that the company is a well-established entity.

Californian Corporations are subject to specific legal and regulatory requirements, such as filing annual reports. Complying with these obligations demonstrates the company’s commitment to transparency and accountability.

Forever Free Plan

With no hidden charges, the Forever Free plan provides the following features:

  • Corporate Name Search: You can use the free search box on Inc Authority’s website to check if your desired business name is already taken.
  • Registered Agent Services for 1 year: You receive the services of a California registered agent complimentary for up to 1 year.
  • Digital Document Storage and Delivery: Your Inc Authority account allows you to store business documents online for easy management and access.
  • Tax Planning Consultation: Inc Authority offers the expertise of a tax specialist to assist you in achieving maximum tax savings.
  • C-Corp Formation: Inc Authority files your California Corporation paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office and ensures efficient processing.
  • Business Checking Accoincorporatsecunt: Inc Authority offers a Business Checking Account to facilitate financial transactions for businesses for free.
  • Business Funding Support: You get funding analysis, where experts evaluate your funding needs and provide reliable funding sources.

Starter Business Bundle Plan

In addition to the features available on the Free Plan, the Starter plan provides the following:

  • Custom State Filed Articles: This service includes having your Articles of Incorporation customized to meet the specific requirements of your state.
  • Complete Operating Agreement or Bylaws: Inc Authority will help draft comprehensive corporate bylaws for your business.
  • Deluxe Record Book: Inc Authority offers a record book to keep your important business documents organized and easy to find.
  • Ownership or Stock Certificates: This includes having physical stock certificates printed to give your business a more formal appearance.
  • EIN/Tax ID Number: Inc Authority will help you obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Tax ID Number (TIN) for your business.
  • Corporate Forms Package: This gives you a collection of essential corporate documents to help you manage your business effectively.
  • Annual Compliance Notifications: This service gives you reminders of upcoming annual filing deadlines and instructions on how to file.
  • Professional Tax Consultation: This service is designed to help you understand your tax obligations and make the best tax decisions.
  • Web Domain + 5 Email Addresses: This package includes the registration of a domain name and the creation of five email addresses.

Fasttrack Business Bundle Plan

The Fasttrack Package contains all the features of the Starter Plan and the following additional features:

  • INC Success Advisor Package: This service gives you access to business experts who can help you with everything business related.
  • Private Banking Specialist: You get a dedicated banking advisor who can help you open a business bank account and manage your business finances.
  • Personalized Business Advice: You get access to a dedicated advisor who can help you with strategic planning, financial planning, and so on.
  • Expedited Filing: With the expedited filing, Inc Authority will prioritize your order and file your paperwork within 24 hours of receipt.


A C-Corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owners and provides limited liability while allowing for multiple classes of stock and unlimited shareholders.

The benefits of a C-Corporation in California include limited liability protection, access to a large pool of potential investors, and potential tax advantages.

Yes, a foreign Corporation can set up a C-Corp in California. However, there are some requirements that must be met in order to qualify to do business in California. 

These requirements include:

  • Filing a statement and Designation by Foreign Corporation with the California Department of State.
  • Filing an original certificate of good standing from the state or country where the Corporation was incorporated.
  • Designating a registered agent in California who will be responsible for receiving legal documents on behalf of the corporation.
  • Paying the California franchise tax.

However, not all professional Corporations can set up a C-Corp in California. Only a professional Corporation that is formed to provide services in professions that require a state license in order to practice can be a C-Corp.

C-Corporations in California are typically subject to federal taxes, as well as California state corporate income tax, which is based on the corporation’s net income. 

Additionally, C-Corps may have to pay various other California taxes, such as sales and use taxes, property taxes, and franchise taxes.

C-Corporations are also required to register with the California Employment Development Department for employment tax purposes and fulfill their obligations related to employment-related matters.

C-Corps are also required to file annual tax returns with the California Franchise Tax Board.

C-Corps offer access to a larger pool of potential investors, as they can issue multiple classes of stock. They also provide more flexibility in structuring employee compensation and benefits. 

Additionally, C-Corps may have a perceived sense of credibility and stability, making the business more attractive for raising capital and conducting business with larger entities.

Forming a C-Corp in California is easy with Inc Authority. It offers free filing services, including preparing and filing Articles of Incorporation with the California Secretary of State. This includes business name, physical street address, purpose, and other details.

They will also offer guidance for obtaining business licenses and permits from the relevant local authorities. You will, however, need to pay the state fees and any other associated fees.