Starting and running an LLC costs money. How much depends on the state where the LLC is formed. It also depends on whether you do the work yourself or hire an attorney to help you.
There are various fees you must pay to form an LLC. The exact amount varies from state to state.
To legally establish your LLC, you must file a document usually called articles of organization (sometimes called "certificate of formation" or "certificate of organization") with your state’s business filing office. In most states, this is the Secretary of State, and the fee to file articles of organization is usually $50 to $100, although in Alaska it’s $250.
You need to choose a name to identify your LLC that isn’t too similar to the name of an existing LLC on file with your Secretary of State. In almost all states, you can reserve an LLC name you like for one or two months by a filing name reservation application. The cost can be as little as $10 or up to $50. Reserving an LLC name is purely optional. You don’t have to reserve a name before you file your articles of organization.
You don’t have to operate your LLC under the legal name listed in your articles of organization. You can use a different name, called a fictitious business name, assumed name, or DBA (for “doing business as”). This is purely optional; you can stick with your original LLC name if you want.
To use a fictitious business name, you must file an application and pay a filing fee. In some states, you file a single state-wide application with one state agency, such as the Secretary of State. In other states, you must file an application at the county level in every county where you have a business office. In some states, you are required to publish your fictitious name in a legal newspaper. The total cost can be as little as $10 to $200 or more. The average cost is $50 to $100.
Depending on where your business is located, it’s likely that you’ll need obtain a business license for your LLC from your city or county government. Some states, such as Washington, have state-wide business licenses. Most states have local license requirements. The cost to obtain a business license is usually $50 to $100.
Once your LLC is up and running, you’ll have to pay ongoing fees to keep it in good stead with your state and local government. If you fail to pay these fees, your LLC could lose the legal right to do business in the state.
Depending on your state, you may have to pay special minimum annual LLC taxes, sometimes called franchise taxes or fees. This is a tax you must pay regardless of how much your LLC earns. The state with the highest minimum annual tax for LLCs is California, which charges $800 per year. In most other states with such taxes, the minimum tax is $100 to $400.
In most states, an LLC is required to make a filing every one or two years with the Secretary of State to keep the LLC’s contact information up-to-date. This filing is often called an annual (or biennial) report, periodic report, or statement of information. A filing fee must be paid along with the report or statement. The fee is usually $20 to $100.
Every LLC must have an agent for service of process in the state. This is an individual or business entity that agrees to accept legal papers on the LLC’s behalf if it is sued. Your LLC cannot serve as its own agent to accept such papers—it must designate a third party.
Any adult individual (over age 18) can serve as your LLC’s registered agent so long as he or she lives in the state. You or any other owners of your LLC can serve as the registered agent. An employee, your lawyer, spouse or other relative, friend, or other trusted person can also serve as registered agent. However, many LLC owners prefer to hire a professional registered agent company. The annual fee these companies charge is usually $100 to $300. In return for paying the fee, you get the assurance that important papers sent to your LLC will be received and forwarded to you.
Your LLC must periodically renew its local or state business license. You may have to renew it every year. The license renewal fees are usually $20 to $100.
(These fees do not include the cost of optional services such as reservation of name, fictitious business name application, or professional registered agent. Nor do they include local business licenses whose cost varies widely by locality.)
|State||LLC Filing Fees||Ongoing LLC Fees|
|Arizona||$50||$0 to $100|
|Arkansas||$45 or $50||$150|
|District of Columbia (D.C.)||$220||$300|
|Missouri||$50 or $105||$0|
|New Jersey||$125||$125 per LLC member + $50|
|New York||$275||$25 to $4,500|
Establishing your LLC yourself is often the cheapest option, but completing all of the forms and filing them yourself can be complicated. Hiring a lawyer is another option, but will often cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Nolo's Online LLC formation service can complete all of the paperwork and filings for you, with packages starting at just $49.