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Harbor Compliance vs Incorporate

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HARBOR COMPLIANCE

When it comes to incorporating a company, there's a lot more to it than just filing paperwork: making sure to do that legally, while continuing to fulfill all of the requirements to stay legal, can be a part of the process that gets the best of a well-meaning business owner. Harbor Compliance aims to change that. Beginning in 2012, they've helped more than 10,000 customers to create and maintain their business incorporation and licensing across a wide variety of industries.

The first thing you may notice is their pricing: Harbor Compliance is the most expensive company incorporation service on the market, with their two packages priced at $499 and $899. And no, those costs do not include any mandatory state filing fees. Unfortunately, these high prices may put their services out of reach for business owners who are looking for help with incorporation that is more affordable than working with an attorney.

So, for what type of business owner would Harbor Compliance be ideal? We suggest that if you have more to spend, and if you want a concierge-type experience with not only your company's incorporation but also its maintenance after that process is complete, you may find Harbor Compliance to be your best fit.

Here's what you'll get with incorporation services through Harbor. Both their Incorporation Package and their Compliance Package include the following:

  • Name Availability Check
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • Federal EIN
  • Registered Agent Service (subsequent years billed at $99)
  • Compliance Specialist: this is probably the most well-loved feature, according to Harbor Compliance's previous and current clients. Within one business day of starting the process, you'll be introduced to your personal representative who will prepare each of your filings and work with you one-on-one to incorporate your company. This person will be your dedicated rep throughout the entire process; your calls or emails will never go to a third-party call center or a bank of customer service agents.

If you prefer the full Compliance Package, that also includes these features:

  • Corporate Kit: blue binder with embossed company name and tab dividers for company records, corporate seal, 20 stock certificates/share roll/transfer ledger/ software for producing corporate documents like meeting minutes and corporate resolutions
  • S-Corp Tax Election
  • Initial Report
  • Publishing
  • Managed Annual Report Service
  • Ongoing Support

Is it worth the investment? Only you can determine the answer to that question for your business, but you can rest assured that if you do choose Harbor Compliance, they have an excellent reputation for meticulous attention to detail and warm, knowledgeable customer service. You'll find evidence of this not only through their A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, but also in their client testimonials that express gratitude for the step-by-step guidance received through Harbor's dedicated service representatives.

Harbor Compliance does what it promises and does it extremely well. But, for our purposes, we give them a middle-of-the-pack rating because their fees and limited two-package options won't give many small business owners the company incorporation services they can afford.

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INCORPORATE

Although they've existed under several names in their company history which spans more than a century, Incorporate has helped more than 750,000 corporations and LLCs to file all of the necessary paperwork to successfully form their businesses and stay in compliance with all legal requirements. You may be familiar with their previous names of The Company Corporation and Corporation Service Company (CSC).

Although they don't feature it very prominently on their site, Incorporate does offer a Startup/Business Formation Wizard that may help you determine what corporation structure is best for your current business needs. We found that tool at the bottom of the main page and in their Learning Center, and the questions were very easy to answer. Otherwise, you can get help by contacting their customer service department, either via toll-free number or live chat, from 8A-8P ET every weekday.

Incorporate tends to be priced higher than many of the company incorporation services in our review. Here's what you'll get from their three packages:

  • The Starter: for $99, you'll get completion and filing of formation documents, $75,000 Corporate Compliance Guarantee and online access to company documents. If you opt in to their Registered Agent Service for $235/year, you'll also get their access to their CSCNavigator online tool.
  • The Essentials: priced at $249, this package includes everything from the Starter. You'll also get a Compliance Kit and company seal (with free shipping), a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), and Annual Report Preparation/Filing. You'll also need to choose Incorporate as your registered agent to get that last service.
  • The Works: you'll pay $349 to get all the features of The Starter and The Essentials, plus a Business License Compliance Package, Bylaws, and the Corporate Records Handbook.

Just looking at their Registered Agent Service alone, you'll see where Incorporate starts to fall short when compared with their competitors: many offer this free for the first year of incorporation, and even those that charge for it typically have fees of less than $100 per year. Given that you're expected to pay those agent fees from year to year, that cost difference could really add up over time - especially if you're like some of the business owners we've found (across company incorporation services, not just Incorporate) who forget that they are expected to pay this fee and then write nasty complaints blaming the provider for charging them.

Their package prices described above are also higher and less robust than what we found with other company incorporation services.

We like the idea of working with a provider that has not just decades but centuries of experience with helping businesses of all types to easily and legally incorporate. And, as you'd expect with longstanding company, their reputation with the BBB is solid: an A+ rating at the time of our review. But, "established" isn't always the best choice when there are other companies providing the same level of quality service for more affordable prices. We give Incorporate a 3-star rating and hope to see them become more competitive in the packages and prices they offer.

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Best Company Incorporation

To help you find the Best Company Incorporation, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Harbor Compliance and Incorporate.

Who has the best Company Incorporation Service? Are you a small business owner looking to protect yourself by separating your business from your personal assets? Or maybe you're a freelancer who wants to grow from a sole proprietorship to an agency, and you'd like to have the legal and brand benefits that come from adding "Inc." to your business' name?

Company Incorporation is a common strategy used in these situations - and many others - as business owners seek to take the next steps in growing their brand and protecting their assets. Setting up your business as a corporation can provide many benefits through creating a legal entity that is separate from its members: in other words, you can't be held legally responsible as an individual for the debts of your business.

There are several different types of corporate entities that business owners use for these purposes - Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), S-Corporations, C-Corporations, Non-Profit Corporations, and so on. The best way to choose the right corporation type for your business and also get it put into place in the most affordable way possible is to work with a Company Incorporation service. These providers offer the same guidance, document preparation assistance, and filing help as you would receive by meeting with a local attorney, but for fees that can often be thousands of dollars less.

As you consider the various Company Incorporation services currently available, you will want to keep several criteria in mind:

  • Services. What is included in the fees you'll pay? Most providers have several levels of incorporation packages, from basic to full-featured. Can you get all of the add-ons you might need, like filing your Articles of Incorporation with your state?
  • Cost. What will you pay for your company incorporation process? Is it a flat-fee, or are there a lot of extra charges? Bear in mind that every state has filing fees that are independent of the incorporation service.
  • Reputation. How many companies has the service incorporated? What do those clients have to say about the ease or difficulty of working with the provider to get everything prepared and filed? Does the incorporation service have a history of satisfied customers?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Company Incorporation services currently available. We hope this information helps you incorporate your business right away!



Why Should You Incorporate Your Business?

Perhaps you've been in business for a while and feel you want to formalize your status, legally and otherwise. Perhaps your business has been local to date, but you are looking toward operating in more than one state. Maybe you are competing with larger companies in the same niche and feel a change in legal status will bump up your credibility. Or maybe you just like the sound of the syllable "Inc." after your business name.

There are myriad answers to the question, "Why should you incorporate your business." Following are just a few:

Protect Your Assets
If you've owned a sole proprietorship, you know all too well that not only does the buck stop with you relative to operations, you're also on the hot seat when it comes to financial and legal complications that may arise. If a sole proprietorship stumbles under the weight of excessive debt or is taken to court, it's the proprietor's personal as well as business assets that are at risk. A corporation is a legal entity all its own. If your company faces legal issues or cannot meets its obligations, your personal assets do not come into play.

Gain Tax Advantages
When you incorporate your business, the IRS allows you to get a tax ID number for your business, establishing its status as a separate entity relative to tax liability. In fact, a corporation files its own tax return -- paying taxes on its profits -- at a complete remove from your individual return.

Separate tax identity alone can be enough justification for some to incorporate their businesses. Keep in mind, though, that when you incorporate, you and any other owners also become shareholders. If your company distributes dividends, you must pay taxes on that dividend income when you file your personal return.

Formalize Status
When you incorporate, you must make your business known to state, and sometimes local, authorities. Regulation specifics vary by state, but nearly universally, you must file articles of incorporation with your state's Secretary of State's office. In addition, you will have to create and record by-laws. Moreover, you'll have to set up a calendar of regular shareholder meetings; the minutes from those meetings must be recorded and kept on file at your company. The shareholders are required to elect a board of directors who must also meet regularly to make important decisions about the firm. Not surprisingly, establishing a corporate structure typically requires engaging the services of a lawyer or law firm.

Make a Name (or Two) for Yourself: State and Local Recognition
One key step toward incorporation is filing a business name with state and/or local authorities. If you want to do business under more than one name, you'll also need to file one or more fictitious business name statements. For example, if your company is called Snow Corporation, and you want to sell skis under the name "Speed Plus Company," you have to submit the appropriate paperwork to the relevant authorities.

Raising Capital
Finally, incorporating your business makes it possible to raise capital by selling shares to stockholders. Relying solely on bank or personal loans or company profits for financing will be a thing of the past.

The decision to incorporate should be a deliberate one. The administrative costs alone should be enough to deter you from entering into this new status lightly. Should you decide to take the plunge, incorporating could be a crucial step in your company's journey.

 



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