A corporation happens when “charter documents” are filed with the state, usually in a form either prescribed by the state or drafted by an attorney [ahem] and, once filed, creates a corporation. Corporations are a legal entity designed to protect its shareholders and directors from liability.
An LLC, or limited liability company, is a type of entity that protects its owners and mangers from liability, unless they personally do bad things. Like a corporation, an LLC happens when its Articles of Organization are filed with the state authority. In California, this is an online form. Keep in mind, there are other filings, and then ongoing responsibilities of those managers and members to continue shielding them from liability. And if there’s more than one Member, having a written operating agreement is highly advised. There may also be tax advantages to filing as an LLC.
An S Corporation is a corporation that has made an election (i.e., timely filed a form) to be taxed as a “pass-through”, i.e., the corporation itself is generally not taxed, but all of the taxes for profits and income, as well as for losses and expenses, are passed through to become the obligations of the individual shareholders. There are limitations to what corporations can be S Corporations. For example, S Corporations cannot be owned by more than 100 shareholders or by non-resident aliens. The “S” stands for . . . wait for it . . . small.
You’ve read a lot about that, I’m sure. There can be reasons to form there. Here are two that come up a lot: One, your business is going to have big deal investors who like being in Delaware, sometimes for reason number . . . Two: Delaware law is corporate-centric, efficient, and can provide better protections for the corporation’s officers and directors. But like filing anywhere else, if the principal place of business is in another state, you’ll need to register your corporation (or LLC) in that state as well as a “foreign” corporation/LLC.
If you’re not thinking about Delaware, then maybe. Sometimes you’re going to have to. If, for example, you’re forming an LLC for investment real estate, with a few exceptions, that state will require you to form your LLC in the state where the property is. There may be other reasons to be in another state, but those come up rarely.