Editors Note: The Calculator below was last edited on 8/20/23 – Links on this page may be affiliate links which will help compensate us for our research.
How much does it cost to start an LLC in 2023? This handy calculator below covers all expenses of the top 5 most popular LLC formation services. Without using a calculator like this, it’s really hard to see how the subtle fees stack up over time.
We typically recommend Incfile as our number-one choice because they do not have hidden subscription fees of any kind. With most of the services, you’ll get “compliance” services in the mid to high-tier packages that will add even further costs. Thank you for using our links, as we may make a commission, and it helps support our research. This project took about 25 hours to collect the data and build the resource below. Your support is much appreciated.
LLC Cost Calculator
Select your state from dropdown.
***TailorBrands doesn’t offer annual report filing as an add-on, so you’re paying more for less services.
|Some of these may be optional and THEY DO repeat annually.||RECURRING |
|Annual Report Filing||Registered Agent||Subscription Fees||Year 1||Year 2-4|
|Year 1||After Year 1|
|SERVICE||EXTRA SERVICES: ONE TIME FEES|
|These are optional and may not repeat annually.|
|EIN||Next day filing||Expedited state filing fee||Business contract templates|
Let’s break it down. How Much Does it Cost to Start an LLC?
Basic Package Service Fee Explained (block 1)
Let’s take a look at the first block of this calculator in order to provide more clarity. We’re going to highlight 3 sections here.
1. Basic Package Service Fee
This calculator shows the base package of each service. That service fee is a one-time cost for using the service. Every service has at least 3 packages and also offers upsells.
Buyer Beware: If you select an upper-tier package with ZenBusiness, TailorBrands or LegalZoom you’re signing up for a subscription service. Let’s dive a little deeper in section 2
Buyer Beware: If you select amid/high tier package with ZenBusiness, TailorBrands or LegalZoom you’re signing up for a subscription service. Let’s dive a little deeper in section 2
2. With all Recurring Fees
You might be wondering what these recurring fees are referring to. There are two fees here:
- Registered Agent Service
- Annual Compliance Report Filing (Service Fee)
- State Fees
Let’s break down both of those fees.
Registered Agent Service
It’s a requirement to have a registered agent in the state you form your LLC. Depending on your state a registered agent may go by the name of “Resident Agent” or “Statutory Agent” or “Agent for Service of Process.”
A registered agent is someone who is responsible for handling important documentation such as a service of process (SOP). What that means is if you’re sued they help facilitate the communications and make sure you’re showing up for your court date and getting the proper documentation. This service is very important so don’t make it your friend down the street, get a professional registered agent.
Buyer Beware: With ZenBusiness and TailorBrand if you go with their mid/high tier packages the registered agent service is lumped into a subscription fee. Your annual compliance and RA are both linked together. This is frustrating because you’re locked into a subscription you don’t necessarily need.
Annual Compliance Report Filing (Service Fee)
Most every state has an annual or biennial (every two years) compliance aspect to it. Typically this is a fee you pay to the state along with your report. It keeps your LLC updated with the State and more importantly, it keeps your LLC intact. If you don’t do your annual report your LLC could become null and void.
You can do this annual report yourself through the State website or you can have the service provider (Incfile, ZenBusiness, etc.) handled this for you. They charge an annual report filing fee to do this for you.
You can see what each service charges in the 3rd block of the calculator under the “Annual Report Filing” column.
The State Fees show in block 2 are included in these recurring fees. There is your initial State fee to file your LLC and then there is either an annual or biennial fee. These fees are added into your 5 Year Total cost. Just be aware for the calculator the annual fee is only added in once. Just know you’ll be responsible for that fee going forward and sometimes those fees go up. We will update the calculator as much as possible.
3. TailorBrands Warning
This warning is briefly mentioned in red that TailorBrands does not provide any kind of annual report filing with their base package. So when you’re comparing the 5-year pricing of this calculator, the other services include that compliance aspect to it. That
Typically TailorBrand will show up in 2nd for pricing but that’s because it’s lacking the ability to keep your LLC compliant in the base package. If you look at block 3 under Annual Report Filing you’ll see that Incfile is $99. This means in the 5-year pricing that there is $495 of annual report filing included with Incfile pricing that is not included with TailorBrands.
State Fees Explained
1. State Filing Fee for LLCs
Every State has a filing fee for your LLC. This is separate from the service fee. In this screenshot above we are seeing the state filing fee for Alabama is $200. This means you have to pay the state $200 to setup your LLC.
So if you just file your LLC (in Alabama for example purposes) it will cost you $200 with Incifle or $349 with LegalZoom in the base package. That’s because LegalZoom, TailorBrands and Northwest all charge a service fee in the lowest tier package.
2. Annual Fee vs Biennial Fee
Some States charge an annual fee and others charge a biennial fee (every two years) to file your annual report. As mentioned earlier this keeps your LLC intact. In this example Alabama charged a $50 annual fee to keep your LLC compliant and updated. So just expect that cost every year.
3. Total State Fees
This column is simply adding up your initial State filing fee and your annual/biennial fee. So for Alabama after one year you’re paying your initial $200 filing fee and then the $50 annual report fee. The true State fee cost after 5 years would be $450. The numbered bulletpoints below represent each year in your first 5 years of ownership. The ( ) represent the accumulating state fees.
- $200 + $50 ($250)
- $50 ($300)
- $50 ($350)
- $50 ($400)
- $50 ($450)
Recurring Fees (block 3)
We’ve covered much of this information above in block 1 bullet point 2. We would like to point out that subscription fees are all $0 for these service in this lowest base package.
The biggest thing to note here is that Incfile offers the registered agent for free for the first year and then $119 annually after that. It’s far and away the most affordable option when it comes to recurring fees. The other nice aspect is your annual report filing is an a la carte option. You’re not locked into anything here and they provide free notifications when your report is due. Other services offer “worry free compliance” type subscriptions where you’re paying for those notifications that Incfile provides for free.
Extra Services: One Time Fees (block 4)
Let’s discuss the four columns of EIN, Next Day Filing, Expedited State Filing Fee, and Business Contract Templates.
Your EIN (employment identification number) is like a social security number. You can obtain an EIN on your own or have one of these services do it for you. If you want the service to setup your EIN take a look at the mid-tier package options as it’s usually included in that option. There’s no fee when you go directly through the IRS website to setup your EIN but it is a little confusing if you’ve never done it before.
Next Day Filing
The next day filing fee is a racket. Plain and simple. This has nothing to do with the State or any regulations, it just has to do with how quickly your service provider can file your LLC. Really it’s just a made up fee. Not to beat the Incfile drum too many times but the way their service works is that when you purchase a package it automatically files your LLC the next day. No fees or upsells.
Let’s say you go to ZenBusiness an get their Base “Starter” package. It’s going to take 2-3 weeks typically just to file your LLC. This is mostly an automated process so what they’re doing is just making it take longer. They’re basically just stuffing your LLC filing into the bottom of the pile so they can upsell you on higher packages.
Expedited State Filing Fee
Again we have another racket. Different States have different fees and policies around expediting your LLC filing. If you go direct through the State or one of these services you’ll see an option to pay more to the State for the quicker turnaround time.
ZenBusiness and Nortwest charge you an additional fee on top of the State fee. It makes no sense and is just a money grab as they’re not performing any additional task or service for you. If speed matters don’t get sucked into that additional fee.
Business Contract Templates
When you get your business setup you may want some of the contract templates available. My recommendation is to get your LLC setup and see what you need. It really depends on your needs and how complicated your business is. Little pro tip here is to see if the free contracts Incfile provides may be enough for your needs. Here’s the templates they currently offer for free inside of your dashboard:
- Independent Contractor Agreement
- Website Linking Agreement
- Terms of Service
- Consulting Agreement
- Service Agreement
- Partnership Agreement
- Organizational Meeting Minutes
- Bill of Sale
If you’re reading to this point it might seem like this page heavily leans towards Incfile, and you’re right.
In plain and simple terms, they’re the most affordable, transparent and honest option. In researching all the options there are so many fine print costs with the other providers. If you’d like to see what the dashboard looks like check out our full Incfile Review recap.
If you’re ready to get started we appreciate your support in using our Incfile affiliate link. You still get the lowest possible pricing and you support our small business for our efforts. Thank you!