Starting a business in the sunshine state doesn’t have to be as tricky as you think— especially if it’s a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC combines the best of both worlds — offering the liability protection of a formal business structure while having the flexibility of members, article of organization, laws, and other business organizational necessities.
Let’s explore how you can start your LLC in Florida and run the business with ease. 🙌
What is an LLC?
First off— let’s break down what an LLC is.
Simply put, it’s a super common business structure — especially for first-time business owners — that shields its owners from personal liability for the company’s debts and legal obligations. Should any legal issues arise, your personal assets, like your home or car, remain safe and separate from your business affairs.
It’s like having a legal force field protecting your hard-earned possessions, and at the same time, doesn’t require things like shareholder meetings or stocks like certain corporations do.
Cost of Forming an LLC in Florida
Now, let’s get down to business and talk numbers. The cost of forming a Florida LLC is $125, with the filing fee being $100 and the registered agent fee being $25, both required parts of filing. This fee covers the essential step of filing your Articles of Organization with the Florida Department of State.
However, for particular business types, there are a few other expenses you may encounter along the way like annual report fees, changing your agent, articles of correction, and other instances.
Annual Fees and Requirements for LLCs in Florida
You’ll likely only have one ongoing annual fee for your LLC: your annual report fee (and the supplemental fee) which comes at $138.75, if received before May 1st, and $538.75 after May 1st (so make sure you get it in on time!)
This fee ensures that your LLC’s information and income stays updated with the Florida Department of State, and acts as a friendly reminder to keep your records in order and let the state know that you’re still in business.
Related: LLC Formation Documents
Tax Implications for LLCs in Florida
Another great benefit of forming an LLC in Florida is not needing to pay corporate income tax. In Florida, LLCs are exempt from paying corporate income tax, thus, letting them keep those funds to allocate elsewhere. 🎉
However, if you haven’t ever owned a business before, you might not know about the big tax that you’re required to pay every year. You don’t have to pay this tax when you’re working full-time with a W-2 form. It’s called self-employment tax, which is charged at 15.3%. Half of this tax goes to Social Security and half goes to Medicare.
If you don’t know about this, you might be surprised at the amount you owe when the taxes become due, so make sure you set aside money every month from your income to delegate to this come tax time!
Other than that, you may also have sales tax (depending on the type of goods or services you sell), or property tax if you’re operating out of an office.
Factors That Affect the Cost of an LLC in Florida
LLCs in all states, including Florida, are treated as pass-through entities, meaning that an LLC’s income and losses are passed through to the individual members who report them on their personal tax returns (instead of requiring you to report it on a separate tax return).
This is not only a much simpler way to file taxes but also avoids double taxation through paying income tax at the corporate level, which makes LLCs a particularly attractive option for business owners.
While most LLCs are the same, there are some differentiating factors depending on how the business is formed and run. These factors include:
- Number of members: The size of your LLC will make formation and ongoing operations more strategic, which could lead to additional costs and tax forms to fill out.
- Business activity: Certain businesses — like truck drivers, for instance — require permits and licenses to do business, and these permits and licenses need to be updated every year. It’s important to understand these beforehand so there are no surprise costs.
- Services: If you’re registering in Florida but not physically located there, you’ll need to budget for a registered agent to receive business mail, ensure legal compliance, and professional support.
Related: What Proves I am the Owner of My LLC?
Steps to Form an LLC in Florida
Now that you know how to form your LLC in Florida, you’re just about ready to get started! Let’s walk through the essential steps of setting up an LLC so that your business can start on the right foot.
1. Choose a Name for Your LLC
First things first, let’s give your LLC a name that truly captures its essence. Select a name that complies with Florida’s naming requirements, ensuring it’s unique and distinguishable from existing Florida businesses. On certain documents, you’ll need to include “LLC” or “Limited Liability Company” at the end of your name, and using terms like “bank” or “insurance” might require additional licenses.
2. Appoint a Registered Agent
If you’re located in Florida, then congrats— you’re your own registered agent! If not, don’t fret; while every LLC in Florida needs a reliable registered agent, you can easily find someone who has a physical address in Florida through our registered agent services.
3. File Articles of Organization
Let’s put your pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and prepare your Articles of Organization💻. This document serves as the official formation paperwork for your LLC and will be filed with the Florida Division of Corporations to officially confirm your business.
Remember to include key details, such as your LLC’s name, the registered agent’s name and address, the principal place of business, and the names of the LLC’s members or managers.
Tip: platforms like doola can guide you through this step-by-step, making it a breeze to navigate the paperwork.
4. Create an Operating Agreement
While not mandatory, crafting an operating agreement is highly recommended to help outline the internal workings and guidelines for your LLC. The operating agreement could include roles, responsibilities, and ownership percentages of members, providing a solid foundation for smooth operations. (Think of it as a roadmap for your LLC’s success so you can set yourself up for greatness!)
5. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
To get your LLC’s ducks in a row for tax purposes, open a business bank account, and hire employees, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
This unique identifier ensures that your LLC can confidently handle its financial obligations and personnel matters. In some instances, it automatically comes with your official paperwork; in others, you’ll have to obtain it manually.
6. Comply with Additional Requirements
Research the industry your business belongs to in order to check if any other certifications or licenses are required. Some examples related to industry-specific licenses and permits include: as a baker, you’ll probably need a food safety license; as a barber, you’ll need a barbering license; and as a real estate agent, you’ll need to be registered with REALTOR® so that you can legally run your business.
Related: What is an LLC Delayed Effective Date?
7. File Annual Reports
Annual reports are like a yearly check-up, and LLCs in Florida are required to file an annual report with the Division of Corporations. These reports are due by May 1st of each year. Keep in mind that there is a filing fee associated with the report, but staying on top of this requirement will keep your LLC in good standing.👍
8. Maintain Ongoing Compliance
Congratulations! Your LLC is up and running and you’re ready to get your business going.
Now, make sure to keep up with all your legal requirements, like maintaining accurate records, meeting tax requirements, and renewing licenses and permits when necessary.
Staying organized and on top of these responsibilities ensures the long-term success and smooth operations of your LLC.
Form a Florida LLC With Doola by Your Side
Is all the paperwork already buggin’ you? We’ve got you covered. doola’s bookkeeping and LLC formation services will provide you with stress-free business management with the click of a button, so you can focus on doing what you love most, i.e. running your business.
What is the approximate cost to form an LLC in Florida?
The approximate cost to form an LLC in Florida ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, including filing fees and other expenses like registered agent fees and operating agreement costs.
Do I need a lawyer to form an LLC in Florida?
While it is not required to have a lawyer, it can be beneficial to seek legal guidance to ensure proper compliance and understanding of the process. However, many people successfully form an LLC without a lawyer.
What are the ongoing costs associated with maintaining an LLC in Florida?
Ongoing costs for maintaining an LLC in Florida include annual report fees, registered agent fees, and potentially other expenses such as accounting services or professional support, which vary depending on the size and complexity of the business.