Filing fees are an important consideration when you decide to form an LLC, or limited liability company. Each state has its own requirements for LLCs, and the filing fees related to LLCs vary greatly among the states in amount and type of fees charged. These fees do not include service fees charged by private companies that provide LLC filing services.
State Filing Fees
All states require a document to be filed with a government agency to form an LLC, usually called the articles of organization, certificate of registration or certificate of formation. The government agency involved is typically at the state level, such as the Secretary of State in Massachusetts or the Division of Revenue in New Jersey; Alabama requires the document to be first filed with a county probate judge before being transmitted to the Secretary of State. A filing fee is always required for this document, with each state setting it own fees, which can range from $40 in Alabama to $500 in Massachusetts. In addition to the Alabama Secretary of State filing fee, a fee is also charged by the county probate judge, which is a minimum of $35.
In addition to requiring articles of organization to be filed with a state agency, the LLC laws in several states also require the LLC's organizers to publish a notice of intent to form an LLC. This requirement entails publishing certain information from the LLC’s articles of organization in a newspaper within a specific geographical area of circulation, usually the county in which the LLC’s principal place of business is located. The notice must appear at least once a week for a set number of weeks, and depending upon the required number of publications and location of the LLC, fulfilling this requirement can be quite expensive. For example, New York LLC law requires the LLC’s articles of organization to be published once per week in two different newspapers for six weeks. If the LLC is located in New York County (Manhattan), the publications fees can be more than $1,000.
Annual Filing Fees
In most states, the initial filing fee to form the LLC is not the last. Yearly filing fees are also required, which are referred to by various names. For example, Massachusetts requires LLCs to file an annual report that, like the initial filing fee, includes a $500 fee. In California, the Secretary of State filing fee for an LLC’s articles of organization is only $70; however, a franchise tax fee must also be paid at the same time to the Franchise Tax Board in the amount of $800. This fee must be paid annually and is in addition to any income taxes the LLC may owe.
It is fairly common to find private companies in every state advertising on the Internet and elsewhere that offer LLC filing services. In addition to the state filing fees, these companies will also charge a service fee, and these service fees are not regulated and can be set at any amount. Because of the variation in state LLC filing fees, it is important to know the breakdown of any fees charged by a private company above what the required state fee is. The state fees are easily verifiable with the state agency responsible for regulating the formation of an LLC.
- Massachusetts Secretary of State: Limited Liability Companies Fees
- New Jersey Division of Revenue: Limited Liability Company (LLC) Filing Fees
- Alabama Secretary of State: Business Services -- Domestic LLC Filing
- eMinutes Magazine: New York’s Irrational LLC Publication Requirements
- California Franchise Tax Board: Limited Liability Companies
Joe Stone is a freelance writer in California who has been writing professionally since 2005. His articles have been published on LIVESTRONG.COM, SFgate.com and Chron.com. He also has experience in background investigations and spent almost two decades in legal practice. Stone received his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from California State University, Los Angeles.