How To Start An LLC In Tennessee In Easy Steps. Form An LLC In Tennessee

To start an LLC in Tennessee, follow these steps: choose a unique business name, appoint a registered agent, file articles of organization with the Tennessee Secretary of State, create an operating agreement, obtain an EIN from the IRS, and fulfill any additional state-specific requirements and permits.

Are you thinking about how to start your LLC in Tennessee? RebelLink has you covered. This blog will walk you through every aspect of LLC formation. Initially, you must choose a suitable business name, select a registered agent, and file your Articles of Organization with the Tennessee Secretary of State, which involves specific fees. You have several options: you can handle this process independently, consult with a business expert for specialized legal guidance, or hire a specialized Tennessee LLC formation service (RebelLink recommended).

From January 2018 until now, Tennessee has seen numerous new business applications. Many entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the state’s supportive business environment, including those setting up Tennessee LLCs. While creating a limited liability company (LLC) in Tennessee is straightforward, there are important details you need to be aware of. In this guide, the RebelLink team will guide you through the process of starting an LLC in Tennessee in 2024, from start to finish.

Start An LLC In Tennessee
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Start An LLC In Tennessee: Form an LLC In Tennessee With These 6 Steps

  1. Name Your Tennessee LLC
  2. Select a Registered Agent
  3. File the Articles of Organization
  4. Draft an Operating Agreement
  5. Obtain an EIN
  6. Submit a Beneficial Ownership Information Report

What Is A Limited Liability Company (LLC)?

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a popular and flexible business structure that combines elements of a corporation and a partnership.

In simple terms, an LLC provides its owners, known as members, with limited liability protection. This means that the personal assets of the members, like their homes or savings, are generally protected in case the business faces debts or lawsuits.

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) business structure was introduced in the state of Tennessee on January 1, 1994, following the enactment of the Tennessee Limited Liability Company Act.

This legal framework provided business owners in Tennessee with a flexible and advantageous option for structuring their companies, offering limited liability protection and simplified management.

Many companies can benefit from an LLC as a corporate structure. Members of a limited liability company (LLC) might be a single person or a group of people.

Learn more about limited liability companies:

Step 1: Name Your Tennessee LLC

Choosing the right name for your Tennessee Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the foundational step in establishing your business identity. The name you select not only represents your brand but also plays a crucial role in legal compliance and market recognition.

1. Naming Guidelines for Tennessee LLCs

When naming your LLC in Tennessee, it’s essential to adhere to specific guidelines to ensure compliance and distinguishability:

  • Include Required Phrases: Every LLC name must include the phrase “limited liability company,” “limited company,” or their respective abbreviations such as LLC, L.L.C., or LC.
  • Distinctiveness: Your LLC’s name must be unique and distinguishable from the names of all other entities registered with the Tennessee Secretary of State. This can be verified by conducting a business name availability search on the Tennessee Secretary of State website.
  • Prohibited Terms: Avoid terms that may imply affiliation with government agencies (e.g., FBI, Treasury) or terms restricted without prior approval (e.g., bank).
  • Professional LLCs: If your LLC is a professional entity, such as a law firm or medical practice, the name must include “professional limited liability company” or the abbreviation PLLC.

2. Checking Name Availability

Before finalizing your LLC name, perform a thorough check to ensure its availability:

  • Online Search: Utilize the Tennessee Secretary of State’s online business name availability search tool to verify if your desired name is already in use.
  • Reserve Your Name: If you’re not ready to immediately start your LLC but have a perfect name in mind, consider reserving it for up to 120 days by filing Form SS-9425 and paying a $20 processing fee.

3. Securing a Domain Name

In today’s digital age, securing a domain name that matches your LLC’s name is crucial:

  • Online Presence: Check domain availability to ensure your business name can be used as a web address. Even if you’re not launching a website immediately, reserving the domain prevents others from acquiring it.

Ensure your chosen name complies with all legal and regulatory requirements before proceeding with the registration process. A well-chosen name sets the tone for your brand and facilitates smooth business operations.

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Step 2: Select a Registered Agent For Your Tennessee LLC

Choosing a registered agent is a crucial step in forming your Tennessee Limited Liability Company (LLC). A registered agent serves as your LLC’s official point of contact with the state and is responsible for receiving legal documents, tax notices, and other important correspondence on behalf of your business.

1. Understanding the Role of a Registered Agent

A registered agent plays a vital role in your LLC’s compliance and legal operations:

  • Legal Requirement: Every LLC in Tennessee must designate a registered agent. This individual or entity must have a physical street address within the state where they can reliably receive documents during business hours.
  • Primary Contact: The registered agent ensures that your LLC receives important legal and tax documents promptly. This includes service of process (lawsuits), state filings, and notices from regulatory authorities.
  • Residency Requirements: Your registered agent can be a resident of Tennessee, a business entity authorized to do business in the state, or a commercial registered agent service.

2. Who Can Serve as a Registered Agent?

Several options are available for selecting a registered agent:

  • LLC Member: One of the LLC’s members or owners can act as the registered agent, provided they meet the residency and availability requirements.
  • Registered Agent Service: Many businesses opt to use a professional registered agent service. These services specialize in receiving and forwarding legal documents, ensuring compliance and confidentiality.
  • Attorney: Some LLCs choose to designate their attorney as the registered agent. This option ensures legal expertise is readily available for any documents received.

3. Requirements for Registered Agents

When selecting a registered agent, consider the following criteria:

  • Availability: The registered agent must be available during normal business hours to receive documents. This ensures the timely handling of legal matters.
  • Physical Address: The agent must have a physical street address within Tennessee. A P.O. Box is not sufficient to meet the requirement.
  • Consistency: Ensure that the registered agent will reliably fulfill their duties over the long term. Changes in registered agents require timely updates with the Tennessee Secretary of State.

4. Choosing Your Registered Agent

Before proceeding with your LLC formation, decide on a registered agent who meets all legal requirements and can effectively manage your LLC’s correspondence. This ensures compliance with Tennessee state law and provides peace of mind regarding legal matters.

Step 3: File the Articles of Organization

Filing the Articles of Organization is a critical step in officially establishing your Tennessee Limited Liability Company (LLC). This document formally registers your LLC with the Tennessee Secretary of State and provides essential information about your business to the public and regulatory authorities.

1. Understanding the Articles of Organization

The Articles of Organization serve as the foundational document for your LLC and include key details about its structure and operation:

  • LLC Name and Address: Clearly state the legal name of your LLC, which must comply with Tennessee naming guidelines. Include the principal office address where the LLC conducts its business.
  • Registered Agent Information: Provide the name and physical address of your registered agent in Tennessee. This individual or entity will receive legal notices and official correspondence on behalf of your LLC.
  • Management Structure: Specify whether your LLC will be member-managed, manager-managed, or board-managed. This determines who has the authority to make decisions and manage daily operations.
  • Fiscal Year: Indicate the closing month of your LLC’s fiscal year, which helps in aligning financial reporting and tax obligations.
  • Additional Provisions: Optionally, you can include any special provisions or specific operational guidelines for your LLC. This might include the distribution of profits, voting rights, or other internal policies.

2. Filing Process and Requirements

To file the Articles of Organization for your Tennessee LLC, follow these steps:

  • Complete the Form SS-4270: This is the official document required by the Tennessee Secretary of State. You can fill out this form online, by mail, or in person.
  • Pay the Filing Fee: The filing fee is $50 per LLC member, with a minimum fee of $300 and a maximum of $3,000. Ensure payment is included with your submission.
  • Double-check information: Review all details for accuracy before submission. Mistakes or incomplete information can delay the processing of your LLC registration.

3. Submission Methods

You have several options for submitting your Articles of Organization:

  • Online: Visit the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website to complete and submit the form electronically. This is typically the fastest and most convenient method.
  • By Mail: Print the completed form and mail it along with the filing fee to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office. Allow extra time for processing if choosing this method.
  • In Person: If you prefer, you can deliver the completed form and payment directly to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office during business hours.

4. Confirmation and Certificate of Formation

Once your Articles of Organization are processed and approved by the Tennessee Secretary of State, you will receive a Certificate of Formation. This document confirms that your LLC is officially registered and legally recognized in the state of Tennessee.

Step 4: Draft an Operating Agreement For Your Tennessee LLC

An Operating Agreement is a crucial document that outlines the management structure, operational procedures, and ownership rights of your Tennessee Limited Liability Company (LLC). While Tennessee does not legally require LLCs to have an Operating Agreement, creating one is highly recommended to clarify expectations and prevent disputes among members.

1. What is an Operating Agreement?

An Operating Agreement is a legal document that establishes the internal workings of your LLC. It details the rights and responsibilities of members (owners) and managers (if applicable), outlines how decisions are made, and defines the operational procedures of the business.

2. Importance of an Operating Agreement

  • Clarity and Structure: Defines the roles and responsibilities of all members, including voting rights, profit distribution, and management duties.
  • Conflict Resolution: Provides a framework for resolving disputes and handling unforeseen circumstances, such as the departure or death of a member.
  • Legal Protection: Helps maintain the separate legal status of your LLC, which is essential for protecting personal assets from business liabilities.

3. Components of an Operating Agreement

While the specific contents can vary based on your LLC’s needs, an Operating Agreement typically includes:

  • Organization: Details about the formation of the LLC, including the names of members and managers, and the date of establishment.
  • Management Structure: Specifies whether the LLC is member-managed or manager-managed. Member-managed means all members have a say in the business’s operations, while manager-managed appoints specific individuals to manage day-to-day affairs.
  • Member Contributions: Outlines each member’s initial contributions to the LLC, whether in cash, property, or services, and their ownership percentages.
  • Decision-Making: Procedures for voting and decision-making on important matters, such as amendments to the Operating Agreement, admission of new members, or sale of company assets.
  • Distributions: Details how profits and losses will be allocated among members, including any special distributions or equity incentives.
  • Management Duties: Defines the responsibilities and powers of managers, if applicable, including their authority to bind the LLC legally.
  • Meetings and Voting: Rules for conducting meetings of members and managers, including notice requirements and voting procedures.

4. Drafting Your Operating Agreement

When drafting your Operating Agreement:

  • Consultation: Consider consulting with an attorney or a business advisor familiar with Tennessee LLC laws to ensure all legal requirements and best practices are addressed.
  • Customization: Tailor the agreement to fit the specific needs and goals of your LLC. This ensures that it accurately reflects the unique circumstances and preferences of your business.
  • Review and Approval: Share the draft Operating Agreement with all LLC members for review and approval. Unanimous consent is typically required for adoption.
  • Execution: Once finalized and signed by all members, keep the Operating Agreement in a secure place along with other important LLC documents.

5. Revising Your Operating Agreement

As your LLC evolves and grows, you may need to update your Operating Agreement to reflect changes in management, ownership structure, or business goals. Regular review and updates can help ensure that the agreement remains relevant and effective.

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Step 5: Obtain an EIN For Your Tennessee LLC

An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the IRS to identify your Tennessee Limited Liability Company (LLC) for tax purposes. Obtaining an EIN is a necessary step for most LLCs, regardless of whether they have employees.

1. Importance of an EIN

  • Tax Purposes: An EIN is required for filing federal and state taxes, including income tax returns and employment tax returns (if applicable).
  • Business Transactions: It’s essential for opening a business bank account, applying for business licenses and permits, and entering into contracts with vendors.
  • Hiring Employees: If your LLC plans to hire employees, an EIN is necessary for reporting employment taxes to the IRS.
  • Federal and State Compliance: Helps ensure compliance with federal and state tax laws and regulations.

2. How to Obtain an EIN

You can obtain an EIN for your Tennessee LLC from the IRS free of charge through several methods:

  • Online: The quickest and most preferred method is to apply online through the IRS website. The application process is straightforward and typically takes only a few minutes to complete.
  • By Fax or Mail: If you prefer, you can submit Form SS-4 (Application for Employer Identification Number) via fax or mail. However, this process may take longer compared to online applications.

3. Steps to Obtain an EIN Online

To apply for an EIN online, follow these steps:

  • Prepare Information: Gather the necessary information about your LLC, including its legal name, principal address, and the name and social security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) of the responsible party.
  • Access the IRS Website: Visit the IRS website and navigate to the EIN Assistant page.
  • Complete the Application: Fill out the online application form, providing accurate information about your LLC. Review the form before submitting to ensure accuracy.
  • Immediate Issuance: Upon successful submission, you will receive your EIN immediately. Print or save the confirmation for your records.

4. Applying by Fax or Mail

If applying by fax or mail, follow these steps:

  • Download Form SS-4: Obtain Form SS-4 from the IRS website or request it by phone.
  • Complete the Form: Fill out Form SS-4 with accurate information about your LLC.
  • Submit the Form: Fax or mail the completed form to the IRS using the instructions provided on the form.
  • Processing Time: Allow several weeks for the IRS to process your application and issue your EIN.

5. Using Your EIN

Once you receive your EIN, keep it secure and use it for all federal tax filings and correspondence with the IRS. Store it with your other important business documents, such as your Operating Agreement and Articles of Organization.

6. Additional Considerations

  • Change of Ownership: If there are significant changes in ownership or the structure of your LLC, you may need to apply for a new EIN.
  • State Requirements: Check with the Tennessee Department of Revenue for any state-specific requirements related to taxes and reporting.

Ready to Start Your LLC with Ease? Let ZenBusiness Be Your Guide!

Step 6: Submit a Beneficial Ownership Information Report

After forming your Tennessee LLC, you are required to submit a Beneficial Ownership Information Report (BOIR) as per state regulations. This report provides crucial information about the individuals who have significant control or ownership interests in your LLC. Here’s what you need to know about filing the BOIR:

Understanding the BOIR Requirement:

The BOIR is a mandated filing that helps ensure transparency and accountability within Tennessee LLCs. It requires you to disclose information about the LLC’s beneficial owners and applicants. Beneficial owners are individuals who hold substantial control over the LLC or own at least 25% of its ownership interests. Applicants are those directly responsible for filing the LLC’s formation documents.

Filing Deadline and Process:

The deadline for filing the BOIR depends on when your LLC was formed:

  • LLCs formed in 2024: Must file the BOIR within 90 days from receiving notice of creation/registration or public notice, whichever is earlier.
  • LLCs formed after January 1, 2025: Must file within 30 days from receiving notice of creation/registration or public notice.

You can complete and submit the BOIR online through the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) website. During the filing process, you will need to provide detailed information about your LLC’s beneficial owners and applicants, including their identities and supporting documentation.

Compliance and Consequences:

Failure to file an accurate BOIR on time can result in penalties and legal repercussions for your LLC. It’s crucial to ensure all information provided is accurate and up to date. Stay informed about any updates or changes to BOIR requirements that may affect your filing obligations.

Consulting with a legal advisor or business attorney can help ensure compliance with BOIR requirements and other legal obligations related to your Tennessee LLC. They can guide you in gathering the necessary documentation and completing the filing process accurately.

Breakdown Of LLC Formation Costs In Tennessee

Forming an LLC in Tennessee involves several costs that you should be aware of. Understanding these expenses will help you budget effectively and ensure you are fully prepared for the financial commitments involved in starting your business. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the typical costs associated with forming an LLC in Tennessee:

1. Name Reservation Fee:

Before you officially form your LLC, you might want to reserve your desired business name. Reserving a name ensures that it will be available when you’re ready to file your Articles of Organization. The fee for reserving a business name in Tennessee is $20, and this reservation is valid for up to 120 days.

2. Articles of Organization Filing Fee:

The primary cost of forming an LLC is the fee for filing the Articles of Organization with the Tennessee Secretary of State. The filing fee is $50 per member, with a minimum of $300 and a maximum of $3,000. This fee is paid at the time of submitting your Articles of Organization either online, by mail, or in person.

3. Registered Agent Fee:

Every LLC in Tennessee must designate a registered agent, who will receive legal documents on behalf of the LLC. If you choose to hire a professional registered agent service, expect to pay an annual fee ranging from $50 to $300. This cost varies based on the service provider and the level of service offered.

4. Operating Agreement:

While not legally required in Tennessee, having an operating agreement is highly recommended. If you draft the operating agreement yourself, there may be no cost. However, if you hire a lawyer to help you draft it, legal fees can range from $200 to $1,000 or more, depending on the complexity of your LLC’s structure and the attorney’s rates.

5. Employer Identification Number (EIN):

Obtaining an EIN from the IRS is free if you apply directly through the IRS website. This number is necessary for tax purposes, hiring employees, and opening a business bank account.

6. Beneficial Ownership Information Report:

Filing the Beneficial Ownership Information Report (BOIR) is required for all new LLCs. Currently, there is no fee for filing this report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), but it is essential to ensure timely and accurate filing to avoid penalties.

7. Annual Report Fee:

Tennessee requires LLCs to file an annual report to maintain good standing. The filing fee is $50 per member, with a minimum of $300 and a maximum of $3,000. The report is due on the first day of the fourth month following the close of your LLC’s fiscal year.

8. Business Licenses and Permits:

Depending on the nature of your business and its location, you may need various local, state, or federal licenses and permits. The cost of these can vary widely, from $50 to several hundred dollars, based on the specific requirements of your industry and region.

9. Franchise and Excise Taxes:

LLCs in Tennessee are subject to franchise and excise taxes. The franchise tax is 0.25% of the greater of net worth or real and tangible property, with a minimum tax of $100. The excise tax is 6.5% of net earnings. These taxes are filed annually with the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

10. Miscellaneous Costs:

Other potential costs include hiring an accountant for tax preparation, fees for additional filings or amendments, and costs for business insurance. These expenses can vary significantly based on your specific needs and the complexity of your business operations.

What Are The Benefits Of An LLC In Tennessee?

A Limited Liability Company, or LLC, is a hybrid company form that combines the features of a corporation with those of a partnership or sole proprietorship. It protects your assets from your business assets, allowing you to protect your assets.

LLCs are the most prevalent structure for small businesses in Tennessee. This is due to the simplicity with which a limited liability corporation (LLC) can be formed and operated and the numerous benefits it offers. Depending on the type of business structure you choose, a unique feature may be a benefit or a negative. The following are some of the advantages of how to start a business in Tennessee. Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of LLC in Tennessee:

1. Pass-through taxation

If you form a new company as an S corporation in Tennessee, the company or firm will not have to pay any taxes. Instead, the corporation’s profit or loss will be distributed to its stockholders. Earnings are taxed before being dispersed to owners, and profits are taxed again when owners declare their part of the profits on their tax returns.

2. Limited Liability Protection

“Personal liability protection” is one of the most significant benefits of forming a Tennessee LLC. As the proprietor of an LLC, you will not be held personally liable for any of the company’s debts. Your assets, such as your automobile, property, and bank accounts, will be protected from LLC creditors.

3. Independent life

When you set up a new business as a Corporation in Tennessee, it will be self-contained. This means that a stockholder’s incapacity or death would not have a serious effect on the company’s activities.

4. Flexible Taxation

A limited liability business (LLC) can pay income tax in one of three ways. Being taxed as an S company is one alternative. An S corporation is a tax structure, not a specific sort of corporate entity.

5. Increased Credibility

Incorporating a limited liability company (LLC) gives your company more legitimacy. A limited liability company (LLC) is considered a more corporate management structure than a sole privately owned company. Customers and partners will recognize you as a respectable company if you include LLCs in your company.

6. Ownership Flexibility

There are limited constraints on how you can arrange the management and ownership of an LLC in Tennessee:

  • You can form a single-member LLC or a multi-member LLC.
  • Members can control a Multi-Member LLC, which is referred to as member-managed.
  • Manager-managed LLCs are those that are controlled by a manager who is appointed by the members.

7. Perpetual Existence

A new company incorporated as a Corporation in Tennessee will have perpetual succession. This means that a stockholder’s incapacity or death would not have a serious effect on the company’s activities.

8. Simplicity

Limited liability businesses in Tennessee are simple to start and maintain, requiring minimal paperwork and cost. LLCs, unlike C companies, are not obliged to designate formal officer responsibilities, have annual meetings, adopt bylaws, or keep track of business records and decisions.

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Important Steps After Forming The Tennessee LLC?

After registering your Tennessee LLC, you need to follow some important responsibilities. Here are some important steps you need to consider, after forming an LLC in Tennessee:

  • Open a business bank account: A business bank account lets you keep personal and business costs separate, which is necessary to keep your LLC’s corporate entity intact. In the event that your LLC or business is sued, a corporate veil shields your personal assets from creditors. Also read, How To Open A US Bank Account As A Non-Resident?
  • Get a business credit card: A company credit card will help you separate personal and business costs while also creating a credit record for your firm.
  • Hire a business accountant: An accountant for your business can help you save money on taxes and prevent penalties and fines. Accounting and payroll are made easier with the help of an attorney.
  • Get Business Insurance For Tennessee LLC: Risk management is aided by business insurance. General liability, professional liability, and workers’ compensation are the most prevalent types of business insurance.

Keep Your Company Compliant

  • You need to research and get a Tennessee license and permits
  • File your Tennessee annual reports statement online with the Tennessee Department of State at the end of the month in which the LLC was formed
  • In the next step, you need to understand Tennessee sales tax requirements and seller’s permits
  • Understand the federal tax requirements to report income to the IRS each year using Form 1065 Partnership Return

Conclusion: Bottom Line Of This Topic

LLCs are easier to set up than other business structures. Small businesses, especially start-ups, can easily incorporate an LLC in Tennessee for a very low cost. LLCs have a tax advantage known as “pass-through taxation,” which allows them to avoid having to pay some taxes. To start a limited liability company, you’ll need considerably less paperwork and legal processes.

Forming an LLC in Tennessee takes time and effort, but once you have everything in place, you can rest comfortably so that your business is ready to thrive. Several ambitious entrepreneurs may have pondered how to form a limited liability business in Tennessee (LLC). You must go through a multi-step process that includes everything from naming your company to hiring a designated individual, as well as signing a multi-member operating agreement.

Start An LLC In Tennessee: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How much does it cost to set up an LLC in Tennessee?

The Secretary of State of Tennessee charges $50 per LLC owner included in the filing, with a $300 minimum total fee. The filing fee for the Articles of Organization cannot surpass $3,000.

2. Do LLCs pay taxes in Tennessee?

LLCs do not pay income taxes by law; only their shareholders do. Most LLCs, however, are subject to a franchise and excise tax in Tennessee. This tax must be registered with the Department of Revenue (DOR). You can register by mail or in person at a Department of Revenue office.

3. Do I need a business license if I have an LLC?

Whereas most states do not require a business license to incorporate an LLC, you must follow your state’s processes. An LLC must register with the state and file the necessary paperwork. Even while you don’t need a business permit to incorporate an LLC, you’ll almost certainly need one to run it as a company.

4. Do I need an operating agreement for my Tennessee LLC?

Although operating agreements are not required in Tennessee, they are strongly recommended. An operating agreement will assist in protecting your limited liability status, eliminate financial and managerial misunderstandings, and ensure that you, not state law, choose the rules that govern your company.

5. How do I file an LLC in Tennessee?

Domestic LLCs must fill out Form SS-4270, whilst foreign businesses must fill out Form SS-4233. Forms can be mailed or filed electronically. For LLC formation or authorization to conduct business in Tennessee, you’ll spend a minimum of $300 and a maximum of $3,000.

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