If you want to start and run a Florida limited liability company (LLC), you'll need to prepare and file various documents with the state. This article covers the most important ongoing reporting and state tax filing requirements for Florida LLCs.
The State of Florida requires you to file an annual report for your LLC. File your annual report online at the Sunbiz website. To complete the report you mainly just need to confirm preexisting information regarding addresses, your registered agent, and the people authorized to manage your LLC. You can make changes if necessary.
The annual report is due each year by May 1. The current filing fee for LLCs is $138.75. (Other types of businesses pay different fees.) There is a hefty $400 penalty for reports filed late.
When it comes to income taxes, most LLCs are so-called pass-through tax entities. In other words, the responsibility for paying federal income taxes passes through the LLC itself and falls on the individual LLC members. By default, LLCs themselves do not pay income taxes, only their members do. (Because Florida is one of the rare states that do not have an income tax for individuals, this means LLC members will not owe state income tax on their LLC earnings.) Some states impose a separate tax or fee on LLCs for the privilege of doing business in the state. Florida, though, is not one of those states.
However, in some cases, the owners of an LLC choose to have their business treated like a corporation for tax purposes. This choice is made by filing IRS Form 2553 with the IRS. (See the IRS website for the form.) Unlike the default pass-through tax situation, when an LLC elects to be taxed as a corporation, the company itself must file a separate tax return. The State of Florida, like almost every other state, taxes corporation income. Florida's corporation income tax generally is a flat 5.5% of federal taxable income (with some exemptions). There is also an alternative minimum income tax. The tax is payable to the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR). Use the version of Form F-1120 that's appropriate for your particular business to pay the tax. For more details, including regarding electronic filing, check Nolo's article, 50-State Guide to Business Income Tax, or the DOR website.
Does your LLC have employees? If so, you'll need to pay employer taxes. Some of these taxes are paid to the federal government (the IRS) and are not covered here. (But note that federal employer tax obligations start with obtaining a federal employer identification number (EIN).) However, Florida employers also may have to pay taxes to the state.
More specifically, you'll probably need to register to pay state unemployment insurance (UI) taxes. These taxes are handled through the DOR. Register for these taxes online (you'll be completing Form DR-1, Florida Business Tax Application). Then, each quarter, use Forms RT-6 and RT-6A to report on wages and pay the UI taxes. For more information, including regarding electronic filings, check the DOR website.
If your LLC will sell goods to customers in Florida, you will need to collect and pay sales tax. This means you'll have to register for this purpose with Department of Revenue and then make periodic sales tax payments for goods sold. You can register online or mail in Form DR-1. After you've registered, you'll be sent a Certificate of Registration (Form DR-11) and other documents. Then, on a periodic basis—monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually—you must submit sales tax returns to the DOR. You can do this on paper or electronically. For more information, check the DOR website.
If you will be doing business in states other than Florida, you may need to register your LLC in some or all of those states. Whether you're required to register will depend on the specific states involved: each state has its own rules for what constitutes doing business and whether registration is necessary. Often activities such as having a physical presence (a business location) in a state, hiring employees in a state, or soliciting business in a state (such as by telephone, print ads, mail, or the Internet) will be considered doing business for registration purposes. Registration usually involves obtaining a certificate of authority or similar document.
For more information on the requirements for forming and operating an LLC in Florida, see Nolo's article, 50-State Guide to Forming an LLC, and other articles on LLCs in the LLC section of the Nolo website.