California Just Released Your Personal Information

In connection with your California business entity, that is…

Last week, Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State, announced the launch of the newly designed California Business Search engine. Over 5,300,000 records were made public, which now includes potentially private information, such as certain names and addresses. For limited liability companies (LLCs), the names and addresses of the owners or the managers are now listed. For corporations, select officer positions now have the names and addresses listed of those who fill such positions. Given the sudden and drastic disclosures, although many are likely to see the move as a step towards transparency, others may otherwise see the change as an invasion of their privacy.

The updated site features; expanded search criteria, improved search capabilities, a new mobile-friendly design, daily data updates and the addition of information relating to Statements of Information of Records. Given the improved functionality of the system, the overhaul of the seemingly out-dated database appears to be an upgrade to the California Business Search division.

Although the updated user-friendly interface and easily accessible information will be welcomed by many, the publicizing of over 5 million filings may be less welcomed by others. This is not to say that such ownership information about a company that is registered to do business in California was not public before. Previously, it was possible to obtain more detailed information such as the names and addresses of the managers and officers of a business entity. However, to accomplish this, the only two options were to either submit a request by mail, or to show up in-person to the Sacramento office.

That’s now a thing of the past as the recent renovation publicizes an entities’ Statement of Information filing. This mandatory annual/biannual formality requires companies to list certain information regarding the identifying information of the managers or members of an LLC, along with information about the LLC’s management structure. Likewise, corporations are required to list some of the key officers of a corporation. All of this information and more is now just a click away from being accessible by anyone on the internet.

As has been the standard in the majority of states, and what has been the growing trend in other states, the details of a business entities‘ ownership/management information is usually easily accessible online by the public. Prior to California’s revamp of their Business Search database, the only information that was publicly displayed through a simple search was only the company’s; name, entity number, status, agent for service of process information and the company’s business address. This information is pretty much universally available in almost every other state as well.

Triumphed as a step towards greater transparency, the type of information that is now readily available to the public also includes the entity’s; principal office address and mailing address, the management structure of limited liability companies and the names and addresses of an LLC’s managers (or members if the company has no managers) and Chief Executive Officer, as well as the names and addresses for certain officers of a corporation such as the CEO, Secretary and Chief Financial Officer.

Of course, not everyone who’s a manager or an officer of a California business entity is affected by the change. California’s Secretary of State offers the option of providing a manager’s or officer’s “name and complete business or residential address” along with the Statement of Information. So, for those who had from the start always utilized a business address, rather than their home address, no records of their more personal information has been made publicly accessible.

The purpose behind wanting privacy when it comes to the information that is listed with your business varies from person to person and from industry to industry. Some business owners simply just don’t want their information on the internet; others may see it as a competitive strategy with hopes of keeping the company’s business structure hidden from a competitor. Whatever the reason, the truth is that there is not really an absolute way to make a businesses’ information completely private or anonymous. If someone has a purpose or desire to find out certain information, they will find it. It just may take more than just a quick database search.

California has never quite been seen as a “corporate haven”, especially when compared to other states, such as Delaware. This is due in part to California’s minimum annual franchise tax of $800. Now, the addition of easily accessible detailed information of a businesses’ ownership and management structure is likely to be considered as a step backwards from being able to lure out-of-state businesses to the nation’s most populated state.

Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming were once seen as the top privacy trio when it came to states that did not publicly provide the information of the owners or managers of a business entity in an easily accessible manner. Nevada has since made the names and addresses of directors, officers and managers public. However, Nevada is still seen as a favorable state with respect to preserving privacy, as the state allows “nominees” to be listed on the required Initial and Annual List, in place of the names of those who own and/or manage the business entity.

One state that has also been gaining plenty of attention among those who prioritize privacy concerns, strictly speaking towards a focus on the public listing of an entity’s owners or managers, is New Mexico. Going largely unnoticed by many entrepreneurs, New Mexico offers a wide range of unique and substantial benefits with respect to incorporating a business in the state.

One caveat to this is that the true benefit of privacy only exists with respect to New Mexico limited liability companies (with other entities such as corporations and limited partnerships not falling under this notion). In addition to New Mexico’s low filing fees ($50 for domestic LLCs), New Mexico does not record the names and/or addresses of the members or managers of LLCs on their initial filing, and New Mexico LLCs do not file Annual Reports. So, for an LLC in New Mexico, no member or manager information is ever listed on the state database.

Circling back to California, although it may be ideal to be able to choose which state you form your business entity in, choosing a state besides the one that the business will operate in, or in which the owner of the business lives in, is often not the optimal decision. Instead, this can often result in undesired consequences if the entity is not then registered in the proper state.

Before choosing which state to form your business entity in, it is important that you obtain all of the necessary information for you to be able to make an educated decision. Even if you do feel confident in your choices and even if you feel that you have done all of the research, it’s important that you contact a qualified business or corporate attorney to help guide you through the often complex legalities surrounding the formation of a valid and sustainable business entity.

For more information or to get started, contact Biletsky Law to help you with all your business and legal needs.

Business Entity Choices

Biletsky Law - Start your businessDeciding which type of entity is right for your business can be a tough decision. There are many factors to take into consideration such as costs, taxes, liability, and legal fees. With the different choices that are available to you, it can sometimes be daunting to try to figure out which entity type is ideal for your business.

But don’t worry, you’re not alone. While entity specifics do vary from state to state, there are general similarities and differences between the states. This article will provide you with a brief description of some of the different entity types that are available to you. Although this article will give you a breakdown of the common characteristics of each type of entity, it is always best to consult a business or corporate attorney to help you decide on the best entity type to choose.

Sole Proprietorship

Regardless of the reasons that you may choose to go solo, a sole proprietorship is certainly the easiest business entity to set up in that you are the company. If you are operating your business using your last name, the process is even more simple. This is because you will only need to file a Doing Business As (DBA) of Ficticious Business Name with the county if you are using a name in which the owner is not easily identifiable. While the cost and ease of a sole proprietorship is alluring, one of the biggest downfalls is that there is no protection from personal liability. Since you are the company, there’s nothing to shield you from liability.


A partnership can come in several different forms but the most common is a general partnership. One thing that you may not know is that although a partnership agreement is highly recommended, there does not need to be any kind of agreement between the parties for a partnership to exist. Rather, partnerships can be implied based on the actions of the parties (such as the sharing of profits and losses). General partnerships do not provide protection from liability for the partners, however there are several types of partnerships which do offer such protection. Without going into too much detail, there are limited partnerships where there is a general partner who is subject to liability and the rest of the limited partners who are shielded from liability. Depending on the state, there are also limited liability partnerships, and limited liability limited partnerships. The important aspect of each type of partnership is that there are two or more parties who are working together and either dividing profits, losses, or workload in such a way that a partnership can be implied.

Another aspect of a partnership is the manner of taxation. Partnerships have a “pass-through” taxation structure in that they are treated as disregarded entities and you will only be taxed once. This is in comparison to some forms of corporations where there is a double taxation, which will be discussed more in the corporation section below.

Limited Liability Companies

Recently, one of the most common entity choices are limited liability companies (LLCs). LLCs are attractive entity types because they offer the protection that a corporation offers, but also offers more flexibility in the structure of the company than what is possible to do with a corporation. LLCs are also unique in that you are able to elect how the LLC is taxed. This means that you can either be subject to double taxation, like a corporation (see below) or you can be taxed as a partnership or disregarded entity would be taxed.

Other forms of flexibility that an LLC has is the structure of the company itself. LLCs can be structured or managed in a variety of ways which helps the business be controlled in a customized manner that is best for the company.


Corporations are generally divided into two different types of entities a C-corp and an S-corp (there are other types of corporations, such as a B-corp, but this article will focus on these general types). C-corps are generally used by larger corporations and do not have the certain limitations that an S-corp has. With an S-corp, you are limited to only 100 shareholders and can only have one class of stock. Whereas a C-corp does not have such restrictions. An S-corp further has some characteristics which are similar to LLCs. Such charecteristics include the option of being taxed as a partnership and therefore having single taxation. C-corps do not have the option of receiving pass-through taxation and are subject to double taxation. Double taxation means that those earning revenue from the corporation are taxed both at the corporate level and then at the personal level.

In addition to the taxation aspect, corporations are generally seen as the most favorable busines entity by investors and shareholders. One of the reasons for this is because of certain formalities that the corporation needs to follow in order for the corporation to retain its liability barrier.

There are many different charactersitics of each entity that is not discussed in this article and it is important to be aware of all of the nuisances of each before deciding on an entity. While the decision of which entity to form is certainly very important, choosing the wrong entity and figuring that out early enough can be a saving factor as many states allow conversions between entity types (for a fee).

For help with your business entity formation needs, contact Biletsky Law.

Where to Incorporate

IMG_0464When the topic of what state to form your business in comes up, most people immediately say Delaware. In certain situations, this may be the right answer, but the state of Delaware is often thrown around as the answer more than it should. There are many issues to take into consideration when determining which state is the most ideal for your business to be formed in. We will go through a few of these important considerations below.

Where are you located?

Chances are it’s not in Delaware. Delaware certainly has its’ advantages when it comes to the cost of running a business as well as taxes, but it is often forgotten that you will also likely be subject to the fees and taxes of the state that you operate in. For example, a business that is incorporated in Delaware but that is doing business in California will likely need to register as a foreign company in California and will then likely be liable for California fees and taxes. However, Delaware does makes it easy for most small businesses in that if you are registered in Delaware, but are not doing business in Delaware, you will likely not need to pay any Delaware taxes (although certain fees may still apply).

What about the other states?

Delaware has long been held as the state that most people think of when it comes to where companies are from (especially corporations). There are many reasons for this, but one that sets it apart from the other states is called the “Court of Chancery”. Although it’s certainly a fancier name than your normal “Superior Courthouse”, this court’s main focus is business. Cases and controversies that go through this court enjoy expedited case times and are presided over by judges with particular experience in business issues. But at this point, this court is probably not what is convincing you to incorporate in Delaware.

Low and behold, other states saw Delaware’s success in attracting businesses with their low costs, no taxes, and discrete reporting and those states decided to jump on the bandwagon. The two other states who have made a name for themselves as the favorites amongst businesses are Nevada and Wyoming. These states offer similar low or no cost fees and don’t require certain reporting such as shares issued or who the directors are (this can be a big advantage when someone doesn’t want the world to know that they are the owners of the corporation for whichever reasons).

Nevada and Wyoming have even upped the ante with Delaware in that neither state instills any personal tax on a corporation owner and has no annual franchise tax. This is a substantial advantage in particular for other states which do have annual franchise taxes, such as California. California requires that an entity pay a minimum of $800 regardless of whether the company is even running or is operating at a loss. Having no such franchise tax in states such as Nevada and Wyoming is a great advantage unless you run into the issue that I mentioned above…where you still may be subject to the fees and taxes from the state you operate in.

So what does this all mean?

States such as Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming have been designed as being very business friendly in the hopes of attracting your business to incorporate there. Often, many people will recommend one of these states as the state of incorporation. But the biggest issue that tends to be forgotten is that forming your company in another state does not necessarily leave you free and clear from having to pay the state that you operate in.

For more information on what state to incorporate in, contact Biletsky Law.


Is an LLC the best option for me?

Biletsky Law - LLC Benefits
Relatively speaking, LLCs are one of the newer entity choices that companies may be structured as. But just because it’s a popular entity choice doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right choice for you. So let’s explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of selecting an LLC.


But first, what is an LLC?

An LLC, or a limited liability company, is a unique entity type which combines different characteristics from other types of business entities. Just looking at its’ name gives you a better idea about what this means. The limited liability part is generally a characteristic of corporations which provide the corporation’s owners with protection from liability. Another characteristic that an LLC has is the way that it is taxed, but we’ll get into that a little later.


So what’s the deal with the “limited liability”?

Let’s start off by comparing other business entities. A sole proprietorship or a general partnership are business structures where the individual or partners are held liable for the general business, profits, and losses of the company. Now let’s look at LLCs and certain types of corporations. With these entities, the individuals are protected from liability and the company itself is liable for the business of the company. This is generally speaking and there are many situations where the individual owner may become liable.
Biletsky Law - LLC Taxes

And what about the taxes situation?

Here’s another aspect of an LLC that is particularly alluring to business owners. Again, let’s look at some of the other entity choices. Individuals in sole proprietorships and certain types of partnerships are only taxed once, also known as a “pass-through” tax. This is different from certain types of corporations which may be subject to double taxation. This occurs when the corporation is taxed and then the individual is also taxed. In certain states an LLC provides it’s owners with the choice of how to be taxed. These choices can include being taxed either like a sole proprietorship (or a partnership) or as a corporation.


Costs and Investors.

One of the downsides of setting up an LLC is the cost. Sole proprietorships and partnerships have minimal to no cost to set up. LLCs and corporations can cost up to several hundred dollars to set up depending on the state the company is being set up in. For some companies, this downside is offset by the fact that LLCs and corporations are attractive to investors whereas sole proprietorships and partnerships are generally not conducive to investors.


Decisions and Changes.

Business planning and selecting which structure is best for you and your company can be complex and there are numerous different issues that you need to consider before deciding which one is ideal for your situation. It is highly recommended that you discuss your business plans with a legal professional before making your decision. However, just because you have already chosen or even already set up your business as a particular entity does not mean that everything is set in stone. Depending on the state your business is in, changing the type of entity can easily be done.


So where does this leave us? LLCs can be very flexible and advantageous business structures depending on the state you are attempting to set your business up in and what your overall goals are. The topics discussed above are just a few of the issues to consider when choosing how to set up your business. Remember, planning, research, and knowledge are essential to the success of your company!