Starting an LLC in South Carolina comes with more costs than just filing the initial paperwork. But it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think.
We explain all of the initial and ongoing South Carolina LLC cost details below, as well as give you tips on how to save money.
How much does an LLC cost in South Carolina?
It costs $110 to form an LLC in South Carolina. This is a fee paid for the Articles of Organization.
You’ll file this form with the South Carolina Secretary of State. And once approved, your LLC will go into existence.
In addition to this LLC filing fee, there are other costs to be aware of when forming a South Carolina LLC (Limited Liability Company).
Costs to forming a South Carolina LLC
There is a $110 one-time state filing fee to form a South Carolina LLC.
There are also ongoing fees which we discuss below.
LLC Costs in South Carolina
|Registered Agent||$0 or $125 per year|
|Articles of Organization||$110|
|Operating Agreement||$0 (free on our site)|
|EIN Number||$0 (free through IRS)|
|Annual Report||none ($0) unless taxed as S-Corp|
|Taxes||varies (filed and/or paid every year)|
South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization Filing Fee ($110)
Starting an LLC costs $110 in South Carolina. This is the state filing fee for a document called the South Carolina Articles of Organization.
The Articles of Organization are filed with the South Carolina Secretary of State. And once approved, this is what creates your LLC.
The $110 fee is a one-time fee. You don’t have to pay any monthly (or annual) fees to start your South Carolina LLC.
Note: LLCs are the most common business structure used in South Carolina. They are the most popular business entity because they offer liability protection for the LLC owners.
Depending on the state, the Articles of Organization form is sometimes called a Certificate of Organization or Certificate of Formation. Articles of Organization is the most common name – but they all mean the same thing: the form used to create your LLC.
South Carolina business name cost ($0)
Naming your Limited Liability Company doesn’t cost anything. Your South Carolina LLC Name is approved (at no extra cost) when your Articles of Organization filing is approved by the state.
You may have read online that LLC Name Reservations are required. However, this is not true in most states. Most states don’t require a Name Reservation to form an LLC.
How much does a DBA cost? (varies)
A DBA is filed with the county clerk in South Carolina. So the cost of a DBA varies, depending on which county your LLC does business in.
Note: A DBA is sometimes called a Trade Name, Fictitious Name, Assumed Name or Fictitious Business Name. They all mean the same thing.
Tip: You aren’t required to get a DBA for your LLC. It’s optional. For more information, read our article: Do I need a DBA?
South Carolina Registered Agent Fee ($0 or $125/year)
South Carolina law requires that you designate a Registered Agent when forming your LLC.
A South Carolina Registered Agent is a person or company who receives legal documents and state notices for your LLC. The Registered Agent will accept legal documents sent to your LLC, so they need a street address in the state and should generally be available during normal business hours.
There is no additional cost if you will be your own Registered Agent, or have someone you know be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
However, you have the option of hiring a Registered Agent service. This will cost you between $100 to $300 per year. But Registered Agent service companies offer other helpful business services and can protect your privacy.
Hiring a Registered Agent service is a good idea if:
- You don’t have an address in the state (South Carolina law requires Registered Agents to have a physical address in the state
- You want to keep your address off public record (depending on which company you hire, you may be able to use their address to keep your address private)
LLC Operating Agreement Fee ($0)
A South Carolina LLC Operating Agreement is a written contract between the LLC Members. Operating Agreements include detailed information about LLC ownership, how the LLC is managed, and how profits are distributed.
Single-Member LLCs and Multi-Member LLCs should draft an Operating Agreement, keep it with their business records, and give a copy to each Member.
Most websites charge $50 to $200 for LLC Operating Agreements.
Here at LLC University®, we offer free LLC Operating Agreement templates for all types of LLCs.
LLC EIN Number Fee ($0)
An EIN Number is also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
This number is used to file income taxes, to open an LLC bank account, and to hire employees (if applicable).
Although many websites charge a service fee to get an EIN for your LLC, it can actually be done for free.
You can obtain an EIN for your LLC from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at no cost. The online filing can be completed in a few minutes.
South Carolina LLC Annual Report Fee ($0)
Unlike most other states, South Carolina doesn’t have an Annual Report requirement for LLCs.
If your LLC is taxed in the default status (meaning you haven’t requested anything special from the IRS), you don’t have to file an Annual Report or pay any annual fee to the Secretary of State.
However, South Carolina requires corporations to file an Annual Report. If your LLC is taxed as an S-corp, you will have to file an Annual Report. Most LLCs don’t choose to be taxed as an S-corp, though.
South Carolina Business License and Permit Fees (varies)
Depending on where your LLC does business in South Carolina and the industry you’re in, you may need to obtain additional Business Licenses or Permits. For example, you may need to get a City Business Permit.
The costs for these other business licenses or permits will vary depending on location and industry, but usually the fees are not very high. Some licenses and permits are issued at the state level, and others are issued by a municipality (the town, city, or county).
LLC Taxes (varies)
There are many different types of South Carolina LLC taxes that owners must pay, so this annual cost varies widely.
Some of the taxes LLC owners pay include:
- Federal taxes
- State income tax
- Local income tax
- Business taxes
- Self-employment taxes
- Sales and use tax
- Payroll tax (if you have employees)
- Property tax (if the LLC owns property)
Your South Carolina LLC taxes depend on your industry and amount of business activity, so we’re not able to provide an estimate. Every business is different, and your specific circumstances determine what South Carolina business taxes apply to your LLC.
Hiring an Accountant
How much your small business pays in taxes is best determined by working with a qualified accountant in South Carolina.
The amount you’ll pay your accountant will vary. However, most accountants will charge $300 per year for a simple tax return, or up to $900 for more detailed filings.
Note: We recommend speaking with a few accountants in South Carolina to make sure they can help you meet all of your federal, state, and local tax obligations. We offer detailed tips on How to Find an Accountant.
South Carolina Secretary of State
If you have any questions about the cost of opening a South Carolina LLC, you can contact the South Carolina Secretary of State.
South Carolina LLC Cost FAQs
Some LLCs may need business licenses in South Carolina. This depends on your industry and where your LLC is located. The cost of local business permits varies. And depending on what your LLC does, you may need to obtain business insurance.
If you hired a Registered Agent service, you’ll have an annual subscription fee to pay each year. This is usually about $125 per year.
Some LLCs may need a business license in South Carolina. This depends on your industry and where your LLC is located. You’ll need to check with your municipality to see if there are any annual renewal fees for the local business license.
However, if you want to save time and make sure your LLC is filed correctly, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent.
Northwest Registered Agent has excellent customer service and they include Registered Agent services free for the 1st year. They also offer other services, like an Operating Agreement and filing your Annual Report.
Check out Best LLC Services for more suggestions.
However, some people may want to hire an attorney if their LLC has a complex ownership or management structure, has investors, or requires industry-specific documentation.
A business attorney usually charges between $800 and $2,500 to form an LLC.
- Choose an LLC business name and make sure it’s available
- Choose who will be your South Carolina Registered Agent
- File the South Carolina Articles of Organization
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
- Open an LLC bank account
- Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in South Carolina
By forming your LLC yourself, being your own Registered Agent, and using our Operating Agreement template you can save over $400.
You can get an LLC in South Carolina approved in 1-2 business days if you file online. On the other hand, filing by mail takes about 2 weeks (including mail time).
And you might be able to find a bank that doesn’t charge any monthly fees.
Before you open your LLC business bank account, we recommend calling and asking if there are ways to avoid the monthly maintenance fees.
The South Carolina Foreign LLC cost is $110.
If you form an LLC in South Carolina, it is called a “Domestic LLC”. If you formed your LLC in another state, it would be a Foreign LLC once you register it in South Carolina.
However, the most important factors in deciding where to start a business are where you live and where you’re doing business (where you transact business).
Meaning, if you live in or do business in South Carolina, then you should start your business in South Carolina. While many websites talk about tax rates and advantages of certain states, none of that applies if it’s not the state where you live and do business. And just because a certain state has cheaper LLC fees doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to form your LLC there.
For example, if you form an LLC in Wyoming, but live in and conduct business in South Carolina, you’ll also need to register your Wyoming LLC in South Carolina (and pay fees). And you’ll end up paying South Carolina taxes anyway. This ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.
In summary, if you are a South Carolina resident, then yes, South Carolina is the best state to form an LLC. If you don’t live in and do business in South Carolina, then no, South Carolina probably isn’t a good state to start an LLC.