LLC Cost | An Essential Guide for Small Business Owners

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Are you wondering how much it costs to form an LLC? This is the right article for you! However, before we dig deep, we must know what an LLC is. In layman’s terms, a Limited Liability Company, often abbreviated as LLC, is a hybrid business structure that combines a corporation’s limited liability features with a partnership’s operational flexibility. Over the years, many small businesses have adopted the LLC model because it offers liability protection, tax advantages, and less administrative upkeep compared to traditional corporations. Despite these benefits, it’s essential to remember that setting up and maintaining an LLC comes with specific costs. If you want to know, you must read and be guided by this article!

llc cost
The cost of setting up an LLC may seem high at first glance, but it is a small investment that paves the way for long-term business success and financial protection.

Start-Up LLC Costs

The initial LLC cost mainly revolves around state filing fees. The expense of creating an LLC varies from state to state, ranging anywhere from $50 to $500. Some of the most expensive states include Massachusetts and Texas, where the fees are $500 and $300, respectively, while comparatively inexpensive states like Kentucky charge as low as $40.

These fees are for filing the necessary LLC formation documents, primarily the Articles of Organization. Other documents, such as the Operating Agreement, don’t usually require a filing fee, although hiring a legal expert or using an online service for document preparation may incur additional costs.

Formation Document Filing Fee

Filing the formation document with the Secretary of State is the first step in creating an LLC. This paperwork establishes the LLC formally and contains crucial company details such as the name, address, and registered agent.

This document includes essential information about your LLC, such as:

  • The name of your LLC
  • The address of your LLC’s principal office
  • The name and address of your Registered Agent
  • The purpose of your LLC (optional in some states)

Recommended: Filing formation papers is easy and hassle-free if you hire a professional service. We recommend using –

LegalZoom – ($0 + State Fee)

Registered Agent Fee

An LLC must appoint a Registered Agent who will receive official correspondence on the LLC’s behalf. Either you or a friend can serve as your registered agent.

Your Registered Agent must:

  • Be a resident of a business entity authorized to do business in the state.
  • Have a physical address in the state you want to form an LLC (P.O. boxes are not acceptable)

Choosing a reliable and responsible Registered Agent is essential, as failure to receive and respond to legal documents can seriously affect your business. 

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Ongoing LLC Costs

After you know the initial costs of forming an LLC, you should also know the ongoing costs once you have filed for an LLC. Here are the involved costs that you need to know.

Annual Report Filing Fee

Immediately after setting up an LLC, business owners should prepare for ongoing annual costs. The Annual Report fee is among the recurring LLC costs, which varies significantly by state. Some states, like Arizona and Colorado, may charge as little as $10, while others, such as Nevada, can charge up to $500.

There’s no annual report fee in several states, but most states impose an annual LLC fee, often referred to as a franchise tax, a privilege tax, or an annual registration fee. This fee can range from $0 in several states, approximately $800 in California, and even up to $2000 in Delaware if your LLC has a significant income.

Franchise Tax or Annual LLC Tax

In some states, LLCs must also pay an annual franchise or LLC tax in addition to the filing price for the annual report. A state may charge firms, including LLCs and corporations, a franchise or annual tax in exchange for their services in its territory. This tax is distinct from income taxes and, depending on the specific tax legislation is typically based on variables like the company’s net worth, assets, capital, or a specified cash amount.

Business Licenses and Permits

You might need to apply for permissions and business licenses depending on the type of business you run and where you do your operations. Depending on your business and area, these licenses and permits will cost you differently. However, research your LLC’s requirements and appropriately allocate funds for these costs.

Optional LLC Costs

Here are the optional costs you must consider if you will form an operating agreement or hire a professional service.

Operating Agreement

Although not required by law, it is highly recommended that LLCs create an operating agreement. This document outlines the LLC’s ownership structure, management, and operating procedures. Hiring a business attorney to draft an operating agreement can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000, or you can use online resources and templates to create one yourself.

Recommended: Creating an Operating Agreement is like having a personal legal guide at hand; it’s efficient, thorough, and ensures the smooth and compliant operation of your business. With LegalZoom’s operating agreement, it will protect your rights as an owner, keeping misunderstandings at bay and your business on the path to success. That’s why we recommend using –

LegalZoom – Starts at $99

Professional Services

You can work with lawyers, accountants, or business consultants to establish and manage an LLC. Although they have an added cost, these services can offer helpful expertise and direction. When seeking expert aid, assess the potential benefits and associated costs.

You may check out the Best Business Attorney Services offering professional services to form your business.

Can I Set Up an LLC For Free?

Technically, it isn’t possible to set up an LLC for free because every state charges a filing fee to form a new LLC. These fees vary by state, ranging from around $50 to $500. This cost goes towards the state processing your paperwork and officially recognizing your new business.

However, you can save on other costs of setting up an LLC. For example, while some businesses hire attorneys or use LLC Formation Services to guide them through the process, you can do it yourself to avoid these costs. This involves understanding the requirements in your state, preparing your own Articles of Organization, Operating Agreement, and other required paperwork, and submitting them to the appropriate state agency with the required fees.

Additionally, while most LLCs choose to hire a registered agent service, in most states, you can serve as your own registered agent to save on that cost. But remember you must be available during business hours at the address you provide to receive any legal documents.

So, while you can minimize the costs to a certain extent, you cannot set up an LLC entirely for free. Considering these costs as an investment into an LLC structure’s advantages is essential, such as limiting personal liability and potential tax advantages.

Additional Cost of Foreign LLCs

Forming a Foreign LLC, which refers to creating a branch of your LLC in a state other than where it was initially filed, entails additional costs that business owners should be aware of. Firstly, you will need to pay a foreign qualification fee. This fee varies by state and is required to apply for a Certificate of Authority- the document that officially recognizes your LLC in a state outside of its formation. Depending on the state, this foreign qualification fee can range from $50 to several hundred. Additional costs might also be incurred in obtaining a registered agent for your foreign LLC in the new state who will handle official documents and correspondence on behalf of your business.

Moreover, forming a foreign LLC often implies that the company will now be obliged to pay taxes, annual report fees, and possibly other fees in both the home and new states. This means double the compliance paperwork and potentially double the fees, thus increasing your business’s operational costs significantly. Consequently, it’s important to review the tax implications and the costs tied to regulatory compliance in the new state before deciding to operate your LLC as a foreign entity.

Here is the list of additional costs associated with forming a foreign LLC.

Additional Costs of Foreign LLC
1. Foreign Qualification Fee
2. Registered Agent Fee
3. Tax and Annual Report Fee


What is an LLC?

An LLC or Limited Liability Company is a type of business structure that combines a partnership’s flexibility with a corporation’s liability protection.

How much does it cost to form an LLC?

The cost of forming an LLC varies by state, ranging from $50 to $500.

Does an LLC have ongoing costs?

Yes, an LLC has ongoing yearly costs like state filing fees, annual LLC fees, franchise tax, and potential state-specific licenses and permits.

What are the costs involved in maintaining an LLC?

Costs for maintaining an LLC include annual filing fees, franchise tax, registered agent fees, and potential expenses for licenses, permits, and professional consultations.

Is the cost of starting an LLC a one-time fee?

No, while the initial filing fee is a one-time expense, other costs, such as annual fees and possible licensing and permits fees, are recurring.

Do all states have the same cost for forming an LLC?

No, the cost of forming an LLC varies widely by state.

Are the costs of forming an LLC tax-deductible?

Yes, forming an LLC is usually considered a tax-deductible business expense.

What is the franchise tax?

The franchise tax, or an annual LLC fee or privilege tax, is a yearly fee that LLCs must pay in certain states.

How much does a registered agent cost?

A registered agent service costs typically range from $100 to $300 annually.

Are there costs associated with changing the LLC’s members?

Yes, changes in membership may require you to file an amendment with the state, which may come with additional filing fees.

What is the most expensive state to form an LLC?

Among the priciest are Massachusetts and Texas, with filing fees of $500 and $300, respectively.

Are there additional costs for a foreign LLC?

Foreign LLCs may have to pay additional registration fees and annual report fees.

Do I need to renew my LLC every year?

It depends on the state. However, most states require LLCs to file an annual report and pay related fees.

Are professional consultation fees necessary?

It depends on the complexity of your LLC. Professional consultation may be beneficial if your LLC has several members or operates in a complex field.

Is there a cost associated with choosing the name of an LLC?

Some states charge a fee for checking and reserving an LLC name.

How much is the average annual cost to maintain an LLC?

The costs vary by state but could range from minimal amounts up to over $2,000 in states like Delaware for LLCs with significant incomes.

Can the cost of operating an LLC be reduced?

Through careful planning and budgeting, certain costs may be controlled or reduced.

Are there penalties for late payments of LLC fees?

Yes, late payments can result in penalties, fines, and even the state’s administrative dissolution of the LLC.

Is it cheaper to start an LLC or a corporation?

Forming an LLC generally costs less than starting a corporation, especially because corporations generally have higher ongoing compliance costs and formalities.

Is it worth the cost to form an LLC?

While it does have associated costs, forming an LLC provides liability protection, potential tax benefits, and operational flexibility, making it a favorable option for many small businesses. The cost-worthiness ultimately depends on specific business needs.


It’s abundantly clear that while forming an LLC provides many advantages, it also comes with its own associated costs. These costs, however, can be perceived as the price paid for the advantages offered by an LLC structure, such as personal liability protection, tax allowances, and more. Therefore, before starting your LLC, thoroughly research to familiarize yourself with the advantages and costs involved to ensure your business decisions are well-informed and strategic.

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