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LLC Formation Costs and Annual Fees In California — Your Detailed Guide

The processing costs and required paperwork to form a limited liability company vary depending on different state demands, which often leads to confusion. So, if you’re planning to operate a California business, there’s no shame in seeking financial advice first. Let our trade experts give you detailed information about CA LLC fees to help you conduct business smoothly. 

Formation Costs for a CA LLC

Articles of Organization

The first LLC fee that you must pay when forming a California limited liability company is the processing costs for filing your Articles of Organization, along with the Statement of Information (Form LLC-12) to the Secretary of State’s office.

As you may already know, any business in California must prepare and submit these crucial documents. The amount of the filing fee varies depending on specific locations within the state. On top of the initial submission payments, keep in mind that you’ll also need to pay additional fees for the initial report, handling, and other service expenses. 

Business Name Reservation

Whether you’re forming a small business or a big corporation, California LLCs are required by state law to choose a different business name not similar to other entities operating in the state.

california SOS business name search

Although it’s not mandatory, it’s best for you to pay for business name reservation to California’s Secretary of State if you’re not yet ready to do the legwork and still in the middle of business planning. In addition, our team advises running a trademark search before proceeding to submit your articles of organization to prevent conflicts and delays.

In the event that your California LLC name is already taken by another company, the chances of trademark violation lawsuits are very likely. This type of dispute will incur additional costs when hiring professional help that provides legal advice and assistance. 

Business License

You might think that obtaining business permits is already included in the initial filing fee. Well, that’s about right in some states. But it’s a bit different when a California LLC forms its business here, as they’ll be required to renew these operational and industry-specific licenses annually in order to continue operating within the state legally. 

signing the contract

The types of permits that a limited liability company (LLC) must apply for depends on the nature of the business they intend to conduct. Nevertheless, the California LLC annual fee for licenses could cost small businesses up to a hundred dollars, more if you’re running a massive corporation.

Operating Agreement & EIN Registration

Despite not being a mandatory requirement, writing up an operating agreement for your California LLC adds another layer of protection to your business as it includes specific provisions concerning financial and functional procedures your company must abide by [1].

The good news is, you don’t have to pay anything when you draft an operating agreement for your LLC in California. You have the option to download a free format on the internet or create your own.

EIN for businesses

However, if you want to customize one for your business in California, our trade experts highly suggest seeking assistance from a law firm or attorneys that offer legal aid in these kinds of documents. 

For tax purposes and obligations that you need to pay to the California Franchise Tax Board, we advise you to process your federal employer identification number (EIN) right away. The requirement is especially crucial if you want to open a company bank account or hire employees. 

Registered Agent

Besides the initial fee that you must pay when forming an LLC, electing a reliable registered agent is another mandatory requirement in most states. As long as your LLC meets the standard set by the state, you can act as your own LLC registered agent to waive any service fee.

finding right agent

An LLC in California also has the option to seek after registered agent services that the state approves. These companies will receive and forward state demands and notice on your behalf to prevent any non-compliance occurrences.

LLC Formation Company

It’s hard enough to run the operations, so it’s no wonder why some LLCs chose to incorporate their companies through LLC formation services. These professional providers handle all the registration paperwork required by the California Secretary of State.

The fee widely varies depending on the packages and services you signed up for. Most of them also offer features like registered agent services and business support to help any LLC with their ongoing filings and obligations.

Foreign LLC Registration

If you intend to operate in California with a pre-existing LLC, you still have to register as an out-of-state business entity. However, keep in mind that you still have the same fee and tax arrangements as other entities in the state. 

California LLC Annual Fees

Statement of Information

As previously mentioned, your LLC must submit a statement of information upon filing your incorporation documents. This file must also include information about the members of your business entity. Although you can download the form on the SOS website, you still have to pay a $20 submission fee.

submitting statement

On top of that, as an actively running LLC in California, you’re obliged by the law to submit a new Statement of Information every two years to the Secretary of State. We advise filing the report six months before the final due date every other year. Keep in mind that every filing entails another $20 fee.

LLC Return of Income (Form 568)

Before we discuss federal tax requirements, let’s talk about other forms you’ll need to file with the Franchise Tax Board, such as Return of Income (Form 568). This state requirement concerns LLCs operating as independent contractors. 

A single-member LLC taxed as  Sole Proprietorship is required to submit this form along with the annual LLC fee for this year and the following year. This form includes your withholding, income, and tax accounts.

Franchise Tax

When talking about the California fees you have to pay to keep your business in good standing, we cannot pass up the chance to talk about taxes. Among the annual LLC tax requirements, the state franchise tax is one of the highest annual expenses you’ll have. 

submit papers

This LLC tax requirement has a minimum $800 fee or gross receipts tax, depending on your company’s revenue and gross income during the taxable year. Make sure to file it along with Form 352 or LLC Tax Voucher. 

Self-Employment Tax

Among California LLC taxes you need to consider aside from Franchise tax is the self-employment tax. According to California law, any net income accumulated by a disregarded entity is to be treated as self-employment tax separate from state and federal taxes. 

However, if your LLC is treated as a corporation, there’s no need to worry about this. On the other hand, different tax rates apply for an S-corporation.

Taxes For High-Income LLC

If your LLC has increased revenue this year, expect your income taxes to be accompanied by an accelerated LLC fee as well. You see, the rate of your LLC tax will remain at the minimum of $800, but should your company exceed $250,000 yearly gross revenue, California will impose additional annual fees.

tax record

Importance of Paying LLC Formation and Annual Fees

Paying LLC annual tax obligations, report filing fees, and other state requirements keeps your company in good standing with the state and prevents you from paying additional penalties in the long run. Neglecting these obligations, especially taxes, could also revoke your right to operate and lead to administrative dissolution. 

(To help you throughout the process, you can also rely on the top-rated online incorporation companies we listed here)


How much is the LLC fee in California?

The LLC fee in California for the filing alone is less than a hundred dollars. This expense estimation excludes the obtaining of licenses, handling fees, annual report payments, and other incorporation costs. On top of that, an LLC needs to settle federal tax, costing you a minimum of  $800/year depending on the business revenue during the fiscal year.

How are LLC fees calculated in California?

The LLC fees in California are calculated depending on the company’s annual gross income. Although costs for Statement of Information and taxes remain static, every increase in the business revenue could increase the estimated fee for LLCs from $900 up to $11790 per year. Forms and payments must be sent every 15th of the 6th-month from incorporating your LLC.


Even though it’s wise to learn more about CA LLC fees before incorporating your business, dealing with taxes and other state expenses requires a certain level of expertise and knowledge. If you find yourself overwhelmed, professional incorporation companies can ensure that these procedures won’t incur non-compliance consequences in the future. 

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Charles McMillan
Charles McMillan
Charles is a family man, an entrepreneur, and a writer. He is skilled in finding the balance between efficiency, affordability, and high-quality offerings when it comes to business services. He’s on a continuing mission to discover and rediscover the most popular LLC services, while sharing his most accurate assessment and review to help business owners like himself.