Think about your LLC a year from now: raking in profits and taking Florida by storm. You have big plans, but before your business can officially take off, you’ll need to make a bit of an investment.
And we’re not talking about renting office space or paying employees – before you sell a single product, there are startup costs associated with launching an LLC in Florida.
While you’re making plans and dreaming big, make sure that you consider all the possible costs associated with starting an LLC. To help you out, we’ve compiled the most common Florida startup fees here.
Quick Note: If you’d like to keep your costs of starting an LLC as simple and low as possible, consider hiring ZenBusiness – a reliable business formation service. To get a better idea of the value they offer and how it works, we compared them to the two most well known services:
Bare Minimum Cost to Start an LLC in Florida
Required: Articles of Organization Fee
- $125 for both online and paper submissions
Overall Florida LLC Formation Costs
LLC Name Reservation Fee
Unlike most states, the Florida Department of State does not offer an option to reserve your business name, so this fee will not be a part of your LLC formation process. Your LLC name will be available to the public until you file your Articles of Organization.
Articles of Organization Fee
This is the big one, the most important form that you’ll file to start your Florida LLC. Once you successfully file your Articles of Organization, your LLC will be on record with the state and ready to start doing business, unless your business requires additional licensure (see below). The filing fee is $125, but it’s a one-time fee, so you won’t have to worry about it again.
Certain types of businesses require professional licensure before they can begin conducting business in the state. Plus, cities all have their own licensing laws, so you’ll need to check with your LLC’s hometown to determine which licenses they require. And take a look at Florida’s Department of Business & Professional Regulation website to find out which other licenses you need to obtain. License fees vary depending on the type and location.
LLC Formation Service
Starting an LLC can be a complicated and time-consuming process. If you want to spend less time on paperwork and more time planning your business, you might opt for an LLC formation service. These services take care of the registration process for you, so you don’t have to spend the time on research, paperwork, and filings.
Most of these services (like ZenBusiness and Northwest) offer basic LLC formation service like Articles of Organization filing, tax consultations, and phone/email support for a flat rate, with options to pay more for premium packages with premium services like Employer Identification Numbers, Operating Agreements, and expedited filing.
Registered Agent Service
Appointing a registered agent is an important part of your LLC formation process. Your registered agent is responsible for handling sensitive legal and tax documents and keeping your business compliant with Florida business law. In short, you need an agent you can trust.
While you can be the registered agent for your own LLC, this puts pressure on you to keep up with business filings and potential legal disputes. Sometimes it’s better to hand off that responsibility to a professional. A registered agent service ensures that your annual reports and other forms are filed efficiently and on-time, saving you from the penalties of delinquent filings and the stress of having to do it yourself.
Not all registered agent services are equal, so you’ll need to be careful in choosing one. Fortunately, we’ve done some research for you, and we recommend Northwest Registered Agent. In addition to registered agent services, Northwest also handles LLC formation — and they’ll include a registered agent free for one year when you form your business with them. We think they’re the most reliable choice, but if you’d like to evaluate all your options, check out our Best Registered Agent Services guide.
If you have questions or concerns about the LLC formation process or if it’s the best business structure for you, sometimes it’s best not to take chances and consult an attorney. They’re not cheap, but they can provide essential business advice, professional filing assistance, and peace of mind.
Some attorneys offer free consultations (usually 30-60 minutes) but will charge by the hour after that. On average, business attorneys charge between $150-350 per hour. Some will offer a flat rate for setting up an LLC, which can range from $500-2000.
Cost variations depend on the experience and location of the lawyer. There are a lot of business lawyers out there, and that can be intimidating. How can you ensure that you find the right one? Sites like Avvo provide databases of attorneys, so you can search and sort them based on the expertise, rates, and locations that work for you. Check out their list of Florida business attorneys.
Foreign Qualification Fee
This only applies if your LLC was formed in another state and is now expanding into Florida. If your LLC is from out of state, you’ll need to file an “Application for Authorization” instead of the Articles of Organization.
All foreign business entities are required to foreign qualify in Florida, or they could incur some pretty severe penalties. It’s $125 to file an “Application for Authorization,” and, like the Articles of Organization, you only file it once so – provided that your application is accepted – you can check it off your list for good.
LLC Annual Fees
So far, we’ve mostly discussed one-time fees, but there are also recurring fees for operating a Florida LLC. Every LLC doing business in Florida must file an Annual Report each year by May 1. The cost for each Annual Report is $138.75, so you can plan on paying that amount every winter/spring. All Annual Reports are filed online.
Taxation is pretty simple for Florida LLCs. Federally, LLCs don’t have to file corporate tax returns, and at the state level, Florida doesn’t collect individual income taxes, nor does it require a “franchise” or “privilege” tax from its business entities.
Your LLC may owe an unemployment insurance tax if you hire employees, or a sales tax if it sells products. Finally, LLCs that are classified as corporations for tax purposes will need to pay the 5.5% corporate income tax.
What If I Don’t Pay?
Looking at all these fees, you might be thinking: how can I pay less? While you might be tempted to look for loopholes or find a way around them, this could cause you bigger problems in the future.
You definitely don’t want to miss filing an Annual Report, as it will result in an immediate $400 penalty. Further, if you haven’t filed your Annual Report by the third Friday in September, your LLC will be administratively dissolved.
If you fail to keep up with your annual filings and registered agent updates, you won’t be able to acquire a Certificate of Status, which verifies your good standing with the state. These certificates are necessary for foreign qualification, loan applications, business license renewals, and certain business transactions.
Planning Your Expenses
By now, your budget spreadsheet might be looking a little crowded, but have no fear! Most of these are one-time fees that you won’t have to worry about again. Plus, with all these on the books, there won’t be any surprise costs when you register an LLC in Florida.
Soon, you’ll have these fees behind you and you’ll be forging ahead, growing your business and earning profits. As you do, make sure to keep up with the few recurring fees – like Annual Reports – so your business doesn’t fall out of good standing.