Think about your LLC a year from now: raking in profits and taking Georgia 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 Georgia.
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 Georgia 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 Georgia
- Optional: LLC Name Reservation Fee
- $25 for online and mailed forms
- Required: Articles of Organization Fee
- $100 for online and mailed forms with optional expedited service ($100 for two-day and $250 for same-day)
- Required: Initial Report Fee
- $50 to file online
- Optional: LLC Name Reservation Fee
Overall Georgia LLC Formation Costs
LLC Name Reservation Fee
Reserving a business name in Georgia is completely optional. It can help if you have a great name that you think someone else might take, but it’s not a mandatory part of LLC formation. For a fee of $25, the Secretary of State will give you a 30-day hold on your name, during which no one else can use or reserve it. But if you’re ready to start your LLC right away, filing the Articles of Organization will lock in your name, so you can skip the name reservation step.
Articles of Organization Fee
This is the big one, the most important form that you’ll file to start your Georgia LLC. You can’t officially register your business or start operating without first filing the Articles of Organization, but it’s going to cost you $100. If you’re itching to start your business, you can expedite the process for an additional $100 (two-day service) or $250 (same-day service). What’s nice is that this is the only time you’ll need to file the Articles of Organization – unless you start another LLC – so as long as it’s accepted, you won’t have to pay this fee again.
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 Georgia 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, and with the number of business lawyers out there, the decision can be overwhelming. But sites like Avvo provide attorney databases so you can find Georgia business lawyer rates, specialties, locations, and more, all in one place. Using a site like this will help ensure that you find the right fit for your LLC.
Foreign Qualification Fee
This only applies if your LLC was formed in another state and is now expanding into Georgia. Does this describe your business? If so, you need to file an “Application for Certificate of Authority” instead of the Articles of Organization.
All foreign business entities are required to foreign qualify in Georgia, or they could incur some pretty severe penalties. Avoid them by filing the Application for Authority online or by mail, which will set you back $225. It’s pricier than the Articles of Organization but similar in the respect that they’re both one-time filings. So, if your application is accepted, you won’t need to foreign qualify again.
LLC Annual Fees
The Georgia Secretary of State keeps their business records current and accurate by requiring all entities to file Annual Registrations between Jan. 1 and Apr. 1. Each of these registrations costs $50, so you can plan on paying that fee every year. Plus, you must file an “Initial Registration” within the first 90 days of registering your LLC. You can file your Annual Registrations on the Corporations Division eCorp page.
By default, LLCs are considered “pass-through” entities by the federal government, meaning that they don’t file separate corporate tax returns. Additionally, Georgia doesn’t require a “franchise” or “privilege” tax from business entities. However, there are certain circumstances that would require your LLC to pay taxes.
For example, if you sell merchandise, you will owe a sales tax; if you purchase merchandise from out of state, you will owe a use tax; and if you maintain employees, you may have to pay withholding and unemployment taxes.
The only time that your LLC would have to file a corporate tax return is if you’ve set it up to be taxed like a corporation. In that case, the LLC would pay the 6% 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.
Failure to file your Annual Registrations, maintain your registered agent, pay any necessary taxes, or keep up with other filings/fees can result in a status of “Noncompliance.” For example, if you don’t file your Annual Registration on time, your LLC is considered noncompliant and will receive a notice of administrative dissolution. If you don’t file the registration and resolve any other outstanding forms/fees, the state will dissolve your LLC.
Plus, noncompliant businesses cannot obtain a Certificate of Existence from the Secretary of State. A Certificate of Existence is required for foreign qualifying in many states, applying for business loans, and other 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 Georgia.
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 Registrations and registered agent updates – so your business doesn’t fall out of good standing.