Answer: LLC cost and setup fees can vary by state and method, here's a complete guide....

Forming an LLC for your new business can be a daunting task. There are hundreds of providers out there offering formation services, not to mention all of the attorneys and law offices that do the same.

Can I really file my LLC for free?

can you file an llc for free?

Although we offer professional formation services at a cost ($129 + state fees), we aren’t in the business of lying.

You can absolutely file your LLC documentation without a service fee, and pay only the Secretary of State formation fees (these are unavoidable, sorry). 

Many entrepreneurs prefer to use a professional filing service or lawyer because it’s:

  • Easier, 
  • Includes support, and 
  • Gives you the option to keep all of the formation services (like Registered Agent) under one roof. 

It’s the same reason you might pay an accountant to do your taxes every year, even though you could do them yourself.

Importantly, there is ongoing maintenance required for your LLC or Corporation to remain in good standing with the Secretary of State. 

Working with a professional service makes compliance a lot easier.

Why would I pay to file my LLC?

Every state has their own rules for filing, and some states even have important non-standard options for new entities – such as the “Close Entity” option for Wyoming LLCs. 

Similarly, it’s important to consider ongoing compliance.

In some cases, all you need to stay in compliance is to file a simple Statement of Information every few years. 

In many cases though, staying compliant requires a complex grouping of forms submitted at different intervals. Required forms include:

  • Annual Reports,
  • Financial Disclosures, and
  • Franchise Taxes* – just to name a few.

*(not a “Franchise” like a fast-food chain, Franchise means something different here)

Working with a professional filing and Registered Agent service is one way to make sure your new formation is done right and your business stays up to date, with a lot less overhead on your end.

A good attorney will do many of the same things, usually at a bit of a premium – but in exchange for that premium you get legal advice (filing services can’t give legal or tax advice). 

Next steps...

llc-cost-next-steps

Contrary to what many educational websites will tell you, it’s not always the best decision to file documents on your own and act as your own registered agent.

Even though it’s true that the up front costs are usually lower, there’s a real risk of improper filing and missing important compliance items in the future.

Just like any business decision, you should take your time and weigh your options, it will save you a lot of potential headaches.

Now that we have all that covered, let’s move on to what you came here for.

Our complete guide to LLC formation costs, prices for additional entity management services, and other ancillary items related to starting an LLC.

15 minutes is all it takes, are you ready?

Launch your new business today for just $129 + state fees.

LLC setup costs guide

LLC Filing & Setup Costs

It’s easiest to understand if we divide this up into a few sections, so we’re going to focus on:

  • Absolutely REQUIRED – i.e. these costs are unavoidable, regardless of method.
  • Optional, but a GREAT IDEA – i.e. you don’t need these to file, but they’re highly recommended by legal professionals.
  • Totally OPTIONAL – i.e. these are at your own discretion, and the value is relative.

State Filing Fees – these fees are set by the Secretary of State, often by statute (aka law), and are not avoidable.

For a complete table of LLC fees, see here.

The fees range anywhere from $50 to $500, depending on your state.

Importantly, fees for different types of entities will vary as well. For example, filing for a Not-for-profit Corporation in Illinois is just $50, while an LLC will cost $150.

Publication – three states: Arizona, Nebraska, and New York require publication of your new formation.

Although this requirement serves primarily as a relic of the past, and a guaranteed income stream to local publishers, it is still a requirement and neglecting it could cost your good standing with the state.

Publication costs range depending on the state, county, and publisher you use – but anywhere from $500-$1500 is typical. There may be additional fees for certificates of publication which are required to update your records with the Secretary of State.

Business Licenses & Permits these are business category dependent and vary by state, county, and even municipality. Alcohol Sales Permits are one common example.

Although these are not necessarily fees you will pay at the time of formation, if you plan to operate certain types of businesses these fees will come up. They can range anywhere from $25 to in excess of $10,000.

Professional Filing Service that’s us, or one of our many competitors online. Prices range from $20-500, with varying degrees of support and features.

You can see an apples-to-apples comparison here.

If this is your first time forming an LLC, it’s strongly recommended that you use a filing service. A filing service will provide quality assurance to make sure all your information is correct and in the right place on the application.

If there’s a delay with the Secretary of State during formation, or even if you lose track of your documents and want a copy sometime in the future, EasyLLCFile provides lifetime support for your order.

Attorney or Law Office an attorney is going to cost more. Fees range from about $200 on the low end, and go up to over $1,000 on the high end.

These fees are in addition to any state fees. With an attorney you do get additional value by way of authoritative legal advice.

If you have complicated tax questions or complex business partner relationships, then that advice may be worth the premium.

LLC Operating Agreement  this is the document of record when it comes to how your LLC is managed, by whom, and what happens to the profit or loss. You can find free templates online, and premium templates range from $29-99.

We believe this is a critical formation document, that’s why our add-on Operating Agreement is priced very competitively. 

It isn’t required, but leaving it out (even for a single-member LLC) could expose you to personal asset losses, and leave you beholden to the State’s default rules.

Without an operating agreement, you’re subject to default rules which are not necessarily in your favor, nor are they guaranteed to stay consistent over time. You can learn a bit more here.

EIN (aka Tax ID Number)this is like a social security number, but for your business. Actually, it is tied directly to your social security number in many cases and is used in place of your SSID on many application forms such as for bank accounts.

You can get this for free directly from the IRS (wait until your formation clears with the State though). Or you can have a professional service do it for you, prices range from $49-99.

Many filers prefer to have this completed by a professional service because there is some nuance to the application – and it can on occasion become confusing, especially if you’ve filed for an EIN before. 

Priority Processing and Rush Filing this is just what it sounds like, faster formation processing. There is usually both an added service fee by the filing service or attorney ($29-500), and an added filing fee by the Secretary of State ($50-1,500)

Fees on the State end of the transaction vary by State AND speed – for instance one-hour LLC processing in Delaware will cost $1,000 extra.

Priority processing makes sense when you need a quick turnaround, or want a guaranteed timeline. 

Without it you are going to wait a bit for the provider to handle your application, and for the State to work through its queue.

Certificate of Good Standing this is an official, stamped certificate from the Secretary of State confirming that your LLC is in good standing. It may be required to open a bank account and apply to work with a vendor, for example.

Generally, you can get these directly from the State for a fee – state fees range from $20-150.

If you request this during your formation, EasyLLCFile will charge $49 to file the request and deliver the document to you. That’s a typical price that most filing services will charge, although some charge more.

Business License Compliance Packages by adding this on to a formation you’ll get a professional, third-party legal evaluation of any licenses or permits you may be required to apply for.

This service ranges from $99-500, and $149 with EasyLLCFile

The value of this depends on how comfortable you are with doing your own research, and how complicated or regulated your business industry is. 

If you’re dealing with anything toxic, lethal, or a controlled substance – then it’s highly recommended that you add this to your formation package, or consult with an attorney.

Business Kit and Corporate Seal – also marketed as corporate binders and various other names. This is basically a folder, usually a nice one with your business name on it, containing hard copies of all your formation documents.

Prices range from $70-200, and just $89 with EasyLLCFile. 

The seal is a stamp and press allowing you to certify documents and certificates issued by your business, with an official and embossed imprint.

The binder will also include stock or membership certificates pre-printed with your LLC or Corporation name, allowing you to issue physical certificates to members and investors.

LLC Registered Agent & Ongoing Costs

These costs mainly fall into two categories:

  • Absolutely REQUIRED, and
  • Optional, but a GREAT IDEA.

Annual Reports – most states will require that you update them on a regular basis regarding the status of your business, and confirm or change key contact information.

The cadence and fees vary by both State and entity type. The state fees range from $0 in Texas up to $800 in California.

For a complete list of Annual Report or Statement of Information due dates and fees, see here.

In addition to the state fees, you’ll also pay $35-129 if you use a filing service or attorney.

Franchise Tax this is a fee you pay to the State for the privilege of doing business there. This is not just limited to what many may typically consider to be a “franchise”, e.g. a fast-food chain restaurant.

Franchise in this context simply means any business organized in the state with an entity registered and on file with the Secretary of State.

The fees can range from just $100 to greater than $10,000. In some cases there is no minimum or maximum, and the fee itself is generally based on your business size (i.e. revenues, assets, profits, or similar) – this varies by state.

For a list of franchise taxes by state, see this table.

Many U.S. states impose a franchise tax and, importantly, this does not replace a corporate income tax necessarily.

They are generally mutually exclusive, although states with low corporate tax rates tend to have higher franchise taxes.

Initial Report a few states require an initial report, or statement of information, to be filed shortly after new formations are approved. 

These initial reports are required in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, and Washington.

State fees range from $0 to $300, and are often treated similarly to Annual Reports just with the first filing due shortly after a new entity formation.

Registered Agent Service a registered agent is required by every Secretary of State. It’s the primary contact for official notices, services of process, and official correspondence. 

The information is publicly available and accessible to anyone. You can absolutely act as your own registered agent, at no cost.

However, a professional Registered Agent Service will provide a lot of value and could end up saving you money in the long run.

Registered Agent services range from $99-500 per year, and just $129 with a new formation with EasyLLCFile.

Here’s what you get with a professional service:

  • Privacy and anonymity – if you don’t have a commercial address, or work from home, you probably don’t want your home address publicized. Even if you do have an office, you probably don’t want to expose employees or customers to any dirty laundry that may get sent there, such as a court summons.
  • Formation and document retention – a professional registered agent will also be your keeper of all critical business documents, such as: your Articles of Organization, Annual Reports, and the like. With us, you also get a robust online account that allows you to access everything in digital form or request physical copies easily.
  • Compliance support – most services, including ours, will also maintain calendars and provide reminders for all of the ongoing formalities with the Secretary of State. You’ll be notified when it’s time to file an update, pay a Franchise Tax, and similar. Even more valuable, if your business is registered in multiple states due to nexus then using a professional service make tracking all of those documents and requirements (which vary by state) infinitely easier. 

15 minutes is all it takes, are you ready?

Launch your new business today for just $129 + state fees.

Free Business Name Search

This is a complimentary free name search, we’ll respond via email with any findings. This doesn’t initiate or replace a corporate filing order. 

15 minutes is all it takes, are you ready?

Launch your new business today for just $129 + state fees.