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Tennessee LLC Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start an LLC in Tennessee

To start an LLC in Tennessee, you must file Articles of Organization with the Tennessee Secretary of State, pay a minimum filing fee of $300, and get an EIN from the IRS. The complete steps to forming a Tennessee LLC are as follows:

  1. File Tennessee LLC Articles of Organization
  2. Pay the Tennessee Secretary of State a minimum of $300
  3. Wait to receive your approved Articles
  4. Get a Federal EIN tax ID for the LLC
  5. Create a Tennessee LLC Operating Agreement
  6. Take these documents to the bank and get a Tennessee LLC bank account
  7. Register with the Tennessee Department of Revenue
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Tennessee LLC Articles of Organization free download. When you're done filling out the form, submit it to your state.

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How to File Tennessee LLC Articles of Organization

To form a Tennessee LLC, you file the LLC Articles of Organization in the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new LLC
Step 2 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 3 Choose whether members or managers will manage your LLC
Step 4 Choose how long you’d like your LLC to exist
Step 5 Decide what address you’d like to list publicly
Step 6 File online and pay with a credit card (fastest), mail to the Secretary of State Office (ATTN: Corporate Filing, 312 Rosa L Parks Ave, Nashville TN 37243) with a check or money order, or drop off at the same address and pay with credit card, check or money order

How Long Does it Take to Start a Tennessee LLC?


Fastest: Same Day

If you really need your Articles the same day, you can drive to Nashville, wait in line at the Division of Business Services, and submit your filing in person during business hours.


Almost Fastest (and some might say better): 2-3 Days

A much more convenient option? Submit online yourself or hire Northwest to file online for you. When you hire Northwest, we take all the guesswork out of the process. Just answer a few brief questions about your business, sit back, and let our Corporate Guides file everything correctly the first time.


Not Too Shabby: 4-5 Days

Print off a paper form and mail it in. Someone will manually enter in all your data and eventually process your filing.

What is the Cost of a Tennessee LLC?

The Secretary of State doesn’t just charge a flat fee. Instead, the state filing fee for Tennessee LLC Articles of Organization is $300 for up to 6 members. After that, there’s a $50 per member charge. So, if you have 10 members in your LLC, it’ll set you back $500 to file your Articles. There are also service fees for online filings—2.35% for credit cards and $0.95 for eChecks.

Hire Northwest, and your total, out-the-door cost for an LLC (of 6 members or fewer) is $534, including state fees.

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How much does an LLC in Tennessee cost each year?

At least $400. The fee to file the Tennessee LLC Annual Report is $50 per member ($300 minimum and $3000 maximum). There’s also a $100 minimum for the state’s franchise tax.

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What are the Tennessee LLC taxes?

Tennessee has a very limited personal net income tax rate of 5% (the tax only applies to interest and dividend income). Sounds great, right? Before you jump for joy, note that Tennessee has two other fairly hefty business taxes: a franchise tax and an excise tax.

The Tennessee Franchise Tax is a tax ($0.25 per $100) on whichever is larger: your net worth or your real and tangible property in Tennessee. There’s a minimum franchise tax of $100. The Tennessee Excise Tax is a tax on net earnings (6.5%). Both of these taxes affect your LLC no matter how your LLC chooses to be taxed.

There’s also a sort of hybrid state-local gross receipts tax called the Business Tax. There are two separate returns, one for the state business tax and one for the city business tax. Both returns, however, go to Tennessee Department of Revenue. The tax is required for businesses with gross receipts over $10,000. Tax rates vary, but there’s a minimum tax of $22.

On top of all this, the state sales tax rate is 7%. When you add in local city and county sales taxes, the average total sales tax is a whopping 9.379%.

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Is a Tennessee LLC Registered Agent Required?

Absolutely—the Tennessee Code requires LLCs to appoint a Tennessee registered agent. You don’t have to hire someone. You could do it yourself—but know that you’d have to publicly list a Tennessee street address that would become part of the permanent record of your Tennessee LLC. Goodbye privacy, hello junk mail. You’d also have to be available at that address during business hours to accept legal notices—and business doesn’t always take place in the office. It’s hard to manage offsite meetings, business travel or even the occasional long weekend when you’re stuck at your desk.

Not keen on publicly listing your address or being tied to the office? When you hire Northwest, you can list our address instead of your own and free yourself up to focus on your business. (Or you know, go to Bonnaroo.)

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Tennessee LLC Versus Tennessee Corporation:

When it comes to state filing fees, Tennessee corporations are much cheaper than Tennessee LLCs. Forming a corporation is only $100 and Annual Reports are $20—much lower than the $300+ LLCs pay for these filings. Taxes, however, are much more evenly matched. Both LLCs and corporations (regardless of tax type) pay Tennessee’s excise and franchise taxes.

If state filing fees are so much more expensive, why would anyone want a Tennessee LLC? Flexibility. Tennessee LLCs are the Meryl Streeps of the business world—they can transform into nearly anything. In Tennessee, you can make series LLCs or director or board-managed LLCs. Heck, you can even form an Obligated Member Entity LLC which is an LLC that lacks limited liability, like a general partnership. LLCs also have a wide variety of tax options. While the typical LLC is taxed as a partnership, LLCs can choose to be taxed as S or C corporations as well. Corporations have some flexibility in these areas as well, but LLCs really take the cake. Leaning toward a corporation? Here’s information on Tennessee incorporation.

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Do I Need a Tax ID Number (EIN) for a Tennessee LLC?

You’re required to get a FEIN for your Tennessee LLC if you have employees or file certain federal excise taxes. In Tennessee, your LLC is also required to register for excise and franchise taxes, and registration requires your LLC’s FEIN (or your personal social security number—but who wants to hand that out any more than they have to?). Even just to open a business bank account, you’ll most likely need a FEIN. You can get a FEIN at no cost directly from the IRS. Or, skip the extra application and hire Northwest to get your FEIN for you when you sign up for our services.

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Does a Tennessee LLC Need a Business License?

While there isn’t a state-level general business license in Tennessee, many counties or municipalities require business licenses. For example, Davidson County requires either a business license or a “minimal activity license” (for businesses with less than $10K in gross receipts).

What is a Tennessee LLC Annual Report?

A major hit to the wallet. Your Tennessee LLC Annual Report is a form you submit to the Tennessee Secretary of State that comes with a $300-$3000 price tag. You’ll pay $50 for every member of your LLC—but even if your LLC is just you, there’s a minimum fee of $300.

You file this form each year to confirm your LLC’s contact and ownership information. And if you actually need to change information on your report? Add on $20 for the change agent/office fee. And for the convenience of paying online? You’ll also fork over an extra 2.35% for debit or credit card processing or $0.95 for eCheck payments. And if you file late? Surprisingly, there’s no late fee—but the state will dissolve your LLC or revoke your registration if you don’t pay up in 60 days of their delinquency notice.

That’s why Northwest sends you reminder notifications when you sign up for our services. You can even hire us to file your Annual Report for you each year and save yourself the headache.

Does a Tennessee LLC Need an Operating Agreement?

Yes, yes, yes. It’s true that operating agreements aren’t required by the state, but that’s because they’re not public documents. Operating agreements are private, internal documents—and the most critical documents for your Tennessee LLC. Your operating agreement puts into writing who owns the business and who invested what. It spells out how profits and losses are allocated and what happens if there’s a disagreement. It even outlines what happens if your LLC shuts its doors (knock on wood). You’ll likely need your operating agreement just to open a bank account. Potential members, lenders and investors will want to check out your operating agreement before signing on with you.

Since your operating agreement is an internal document and not a standard state form, what should it look like? How do you start? You don’t have to start from scratch—at least not when you hire Northwest to form your Tennessee LLC. When you hire us, we give you a free operating agreement, specific to your management style. We’ll give you other free forms too, from membership certificates to resolutions. We hope to work with your business for a long time, so we want you to start out on the right foot. That’s why we’ve spent years refining and improving all of our free forms. We’re proud to say that over 1 million LLCs have used our free LLC forms to help form and maintain their businesses.


Tennessee LLC Articles of Organization Requirements:

Company Name

Your name must include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation. Most businesses keep it short and sweet with “LLC.”

Name Consent

Want to use an LLC name already in use in Tennessee? You can if you get permission and tick the box in this section. Tip: Most businesses opt for something original and skip this section.

Additional Designation

If your LLC isn’t just a standard LLC (for example, if you’re a nonprofit, a professional LLC or a series LLC), you’ll have to note that in this section and also tick the appropriate box on the last page of the paper application. If you’re a bank, insurance company, litigation financier, or trust company, you’ll need to note that in the designation section as well. Tip: Most LLCs aren’t any of these and skip this section.

Registered Agent

You can list an individual, such as yourself, or a business that provides registered agent service, such as Northwest. We recommend Northwest.

Registered Office

This Tennessee street address will become a part of the permanent public record of your LLC. When you hire Northwest, our address will go here.

Fiscal Year Close Month

Include the month that your fiscal year ends. Most businesses operate on a normal calendar year and list December as their FY close month.

Effective Date

If you want your LLC to begin on a specific date in the near future (maybe the next tax period is just around the corner), you can list an effective date up to 90 days in the future. Want your Tennessee LLC to start right away? Skip this section.

LLC Management

Tick the box to indicate whether your LLC is managed by members (typical), managers (fairly common), or directors (uncommon—Tennessee allows for “director-managed” LLCs, which are similar in structure to corporations).

Number of Members

Have more than 6 members? You’ll pay a higher filing fee—$50 per each additional member.


Want to put an end date on your LLC? Include that here. Prefer to have your Tennessee LLC continue indefinitely? Choose “perpetual.”

Principal Office

This is the official street address of your Tennessee LLC. Hire Northwest and you can use our Tennessee address as your principal office.

Obligated Members

Sure, it’s a Limited Liability Company, but if you want to forgo asset protection and have members held liable for the debts and obligations of the company, you can tick these boxes and register your LLC as an Obligated Member Entity. Tip: This is pretty uncommon; most businesses don’t tick these boxes.

Prohibited Businesses

If for some reason you’re forming a Tennessee LLC that is prohibited from engaging in business in Tennessee, you’ll tick this box. Tip: It’d be pretty unusual if you had to tick this box. Nearly all businesses skip this section.

Tennessee LLC Organizer

Your organizer signs and submits your Articles of Organization. Organizers don’t have to be anyone in your LLC. When you hire Northwest, we’ll be your organizers.

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