After you start a DC LLC, the Member(s) should draft and sign an Operating Agreement.
What is a District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement?
A District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement is a written contract among the LLC Members (owners) which includes details and information about LLC ownership and management.
Your Operating Agreement will include basic information about your District of Columbia LLC. A lot of the information will be the same information listed in your LLC’s Articles of Organization, such as:
- LLC Name
- LLC effective date
- District of Columbia Registered Agent
- purpose of LLC
- duration of LLC
- and how the LLC will be taxed
Your District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement will be a place where all the LLC Members will list how much of the LLC they own and then each Member will sign the Operating Agreement.
How much someone owns is called their “ownership interest”, “ownership percentage”, or “ownership units”. LLC Ownership is most often expressed as a percentage (example, 5%, 50%, 100%, etc.). The terms “shares” or “shareholders” doesn’t apply to LLCs.
Initial Capital Contribution:
One of the first things you’ll do after your LLC filing is approved by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is have each of the LLC Members (or the sole Member in a Single-Member LLC) make their initial capital contribution. The initial capital contributions will be listed in your District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement.
A capital contribution is simply an individual member depositing money into the LLC bank account. The most common way to do this is by each person writing a personal check made out to the LLC. This also creates a nice record of the transaction. If you’re going to use an Operating Agreement template provided below, you’ll want the amount of the initial capital contribution to be proportionate to the ownership percentages.
For example, if it’s a 2-Member LLC with 50/50 ownership, each person should deposit the same amount of money. It doesn’t matter if both Members deposit $500 or $25,000; as long as both amounts are the same. If the 2 Member LLC was owned 70/30, then the deposits should reflect that ratio, such as Member 1 depositing $7,000 and Member 2 depositing $3,000.
Distribution of Profits:
As per the Operating Agreement templates below, when Members take money out of the District of Columbia LLC’s bank account and distribute profits to themselves, this is called a “capital distribution”.
A capital distribution can be taken by an LLC Member writing a check from the LLC bank account to the LLC Member(s) individually. You could also use a digital bank transfer, bank wire, or any other other means of money transfer that creates a documented record.
In a Multi-Member District of Columbia LLC, the amount of the capital distributions are proportionate to the percentage of LLC ownership.
Note: A capital distribution is not considered a salary.
Statement about taxes:
A brief statement of how the LLC will be taxed will be made in the District of Columbia LLC’s Operating Agreement.
The rules of membership voting will be spelled out in your District of Columbia LLC’s Operating Agreement. If you use the template for a Member-Managed LLC below, the voting powers are proportionate to the LLC ownership percentages.
If you use the Manager-Managed Operating Agreement template below, the voting powers are also proportionate to the LLC ownership percentages. Then the Members (by a majority vote) agree to elect a Manager. The Manager then has their own authority to make most decisions on behalf of the LLC (without a vote needed by the Members). However, certain things, like adding a new LLC Member require a vote of the existing Members (and the Manager has no say).
What about Single-Member LLCs?
Operating Agreements are not only for Multi-Member LLCs.
Even if you are the only Member of your District of Columbia LLC (a Single-Member LLC), it’s still best practice to have an Operating Agreement.
In case you have to go to court over a lawsuit, having an Operating Agreement will help prove your Single-Member LLC is being run as a separate entity. And therefore, your personal assets remain safe and out of reach of creditors.
Do I have to send my District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement to the DCRA?
No, you don’t have to send your District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement to the DCRA (or to any other government agency for that matter).
As an “Internal Document”, you (and your fellow Members, if applicable) need only keep your District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement in your business records and amongst yourselves.
Who needs your Operating Agreement?
The following may need to see a copy of your District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement:
- Banks and lending companies
- Title companies
- Accountants, tax professionals, and lawyers
- Court (if you ever end up there)
This list is not exhaustive. Other individuals and companies may also request a copy of your District of Columbia LLC’s Operating Agreement.
Operating Agreements don’t need to be notarized
Your District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement doesn’t need to be notarized.
Once you (and the other LLC Members, if applicable) sign the Operating Agreement, then it becomes a legally binding document for all of you.
DC Bar Operating Agreement (Single-Member LLC)
The District of Columbia Bar Association offers a Single-Member LLC Operating Agreement, which you can download here:
Note: At this time, the Operating Agreement they provide is designed for Single-Member LLCs, not for Multi-Member LLCs.
However, we’ve also provided free Member-Managed LLC and Manager-Managed LLC Operating Agreement templates below, which work for both Single-Member LLCs and Multi-Member LLCs in the District.
District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement (Member-managed)
Our District of Columbia LLC Member-managed Operating Agreement is available in 3 formats:
- District of Columbia LLC Member-managed Operating Agreement (Word)
- District of Columbia LLC Member-managed Operating Agreement (PDF)
- District of Columbia LLC Member-managed Operating Agreement (Google Doc)
A Member-managed District of Columbia LLC is where all the owners (LLC Members) have the ability to bind the LLC in contracts and agreements. And the District of Columbia LLC Members also run the business and the day-to-day operations.
Most people choose to have their District of Columbia LLC be Member-managed.
District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement (Manager-managed)
If your District of Columbia LLC will be Manager-managed, you can download the Operating Agreement below:
- District of Columbia LLC Manager-managed Operating Agreement (Word)
- District of Columbia LLC Manager-managed Operating Agreement (Google Doc)
A Manager-managed District of Columbia LLC is where only one, or a few designated people (called “Managers”), have the ability to bind the LLC in contracts and agreements. The District of Columbia LLC Managers also run the business and the day-to-day operations, while the other Members can’t bind the LLC in contracts and agreements, and they don’t take part in running the business and day-to-day operations. Instead, they take a passive/investor role. The Members, however, do vote the Manager into their position and also are required to vote on certain items like adding or removing an LLC Member.
For more information, please see Member-managed LLC vs Manager-managed LLC.
Customized District of Columbia LLC Operating Agreement
If you want your District of Columbia LLC’s Operating Agreement customized to you and the other LLC Members’ specifications, we recommend hiring a business attorney.
Make sure all LLC Members have a copy
Once you finalize your District of Columbia LLC’s Operating Agreement, make sure all Members have a copy.
And keep a copy or two of the Operating Agreement with your business records.
After you’ve completed and signed your District of Columbia LLC’s Operating Agreement, you can then proceed to the next Lesson: District of Columbia LLC EIN.