Incorporating a company in California, run partly from abroad
What is the simplest, cost effective way to incorporate this company, with the minimum legal liability, and the minimum reporting and tax burdens?
In general, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is more flexible and easier to maintain on many levels, including taxes, than a Corporation. We have a a convenient research article titled 'LLC vs. Corporation' which I believe you should find helpful. Another article you may find helpful is titled 'Choosing Business Entity'.
Choice of state is a more tricky issue. Since you will be in California big part of the year your business would most probably have "nexus" in California which would require you to register it there (although its anything but cheap, with California's annual $800 franchise tax). It is never a bad idea to consult your business plans with a licensed accountant and/or attorney to decide on what state to register in.