How to Apply for an LLC in Texas

Updated on January 22, 2024

Starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Texas provides business owners with personal liability protection as well as flexibility in taxation. The Texas Secretary of State makes forming an LLC relatively straightforward, especially when using an online legal services company. First, you’ll need to choose a business name and register it. Next, you’ll file formation documents with the state. Additionally, establish an operating agreement and obtain necessary permits and licenses. Finally, comply with IRS guidelines for taxation. Following these basic steps allows Texas entrepreneurs to quickly and easily start their own LLC.

Understanding LLCs

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a business structure that combines aspects of partnerships and corporations. LLCs provide liability protection for the owners, called members, so their personal assets are generally protected from business debts and claims. At the same time, LLCs allow pass-through taxation like partnerships, avoiding double taxation on business income.

Some key things to know about LLCs:

  • LLCs have great flexibility in structuring ownership and management
  • They require less paperwork and formalities than corporations
  • Most states, including Texas, allow single-member LLCs with just one owner
  • LLCs need to follow state-specific formation and operation rules

Forming an LLC establishes business structure early on, keeping things separate from the beginning. Overall, the liability protection and tax flexibility make LLCs a popular choice for small businesses and startups in Texas.

Choosing a Name for Your LLC

When starting an LLC in Texas, one of the first steps is choosing a name. Here are some tips for picking an LLC name:

  • Make sure the name is available by checking the Texas Secretary of State’s database. The name must be distinguishable from other entities registered in Texas.
  • Consider including keywords related to your industry or location if you want to optimize for search engines. For example, “Austin Tax Preparation Services, LLC.”
  • You can use words like “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company,” or the abbreviations L.L.C., LLC, or LC. The official name must include a designation like this.
  • Make sure the name complies with Texas’ naming guidelines for LLCs. It cannot contain words restricted by state law.

Choosing the right name involves checking availability, considering SEO, and following state naming rules. This ensures you find a distinguishable name that works for marketing your Texas LLC.

Selecting a Registered Agent

One of the requirements for forming an LLC in Texas is designating a registered agent. This is a person or business that agrees to accept legal documents on behalf of your LLC if you are sued or served papers. When selecting your registered agent, you have a few options:

  • You can appoint yourself, a member of the LLC, or a family member as the registered agent. This is convenient but means you need to be available at your registered office address.
  • You can use a commercial registered agent service. This option costs money but means you don’t have to be available to receive legal documents yourself.
  • Your registered agent must have a physical street address in Texas, not just a P.O. Box. The address is listed in your certificate of formation.

Carefully consider accessibility, cost, and reliability when selecting your Texas LLC’s registered agent. Choose wisely as changing the registered agent later requires filing additional paperwork.

Filing Your LLC Paperwork

Once you have chosen a business name and registered your LLC with the Texas Secretary of State, there are a few more steps to complete your LLC paperwork.

  • Draft your operating agreement. This document outlines the ownership structure, member responsibilities, profit/loss distribution, voting rights, and other governance rules for your LLC.
  • Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This number identifies your business for tax purposes.
  • Set up accounting procedures. Decide if you will handle accounting internally or work with an accountant, and choose an accounting system like QuickBooks.
  • Understand your tax obligations. If you will collect/remit sales tax, you may need to register for a Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit.

Additionally, you may need licenses and permits from Texas agencies and your local government before opening for business. Use the Texas Checklist Tool for guidance.

Structuring your LLC correctly from the start, with all the necessary paperwork filed, establishes a solid legal and organizational foundation to operate your Texas business.

Drafting an LLC Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is a crucial document for any Texas LLC that lays out the financial and functional decisions about how your business will run. While LLCs are not required to have an operating agreement under Texas law, having one can help owners avoid disputes on important business matters in the future.

Here are some key things to cover in your Texas LLC operating agreement:

  • Ownership structure – Clearly define membership percentages, voting rights, and distribution of profits and losses.
  • Member responsibilities and restrictions – Outline the duties and obligations of each member along with any limitations.
  • Capital contributions – Detail the initial and future capital contributions expected of each member.
  • Business procedures – Provide protocols for holding meetings, keeping records, admitting new members, etc.
  • Rules for transfer or sale of membership interest – Determine requirements for members selling or transferring their ownership stakes.
  • Plans for dissolution – Define how to handle winding down and dissolving the LLC in Texas.

While you can draft an operating agreement yourself, getting help from an attorney can ensure you cover all important bases specific to Texas LLC law and your business needs. Your operating agreement should be customized to your situation.

Be sure all LLC members sign the finalized operating agreement document to make it officially binding. This agreement acts as an internal governing document that can help prevent disputes and smooth the operations of your Texas LLC for years to come.

Obtaining Tax Identification Numbers

One of the key steps in forming an LLC in Texas is obtaining tax identification numbers from federal and state agencies. This allows your LLC to pay taxes and comply with reporting requirements.

At the federal level, you will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This number identifies your business for tax purposes. You can easily apply for an EIN on the IRS website. At the state level, you will need to register with the Texas Comptroller’s Office to obtain a Texas Taxpayer Number if you will be charging sales tax. This allows you to collect and remit state sales taxes charged to customers.

In summary, crucial tax IDs needed for an LLC in Texas include:

  • Federal EIN from IRS
  • Texas Taxpayer Number from Comptroller’s Office if charging sales tax

Securing these tax numbers early in the LLC formation process ensures you can manage tax compliance duties down the road.

Pros and Cons of Starting an LLC in California

Starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Texas has several advantages. Some of the key pros of establishing an LLC in Texas include:

  • Limited personal liability – An LLC protects your personal assets if your business is sued or goes into debt.
  • Tax flexibility – LLCs can choose to be taxed as a sole proprietorship, partnership, S corporation or C corporation.
  • Credibility – Forming an official LLC can make your business appear more legitimate to customers.

However, there are also a few potential downsides to consider:

  • Increased legal obligations – LLCs require more record keeping, reporting and compliance rules than sole proprietorships.
  • Higher taxes – You may pay more taxes in certain cases compared to a sole proprietorship.
  • Setup costs – The Texas LLC formation fees start around $300 plus state fees.

Weighing the pros and cons allows you to make an informed decision on whether forming an LLC is the right choice for your business in Texas.

Cost Considerations

When starting an LLC in Texas, there are several costs to consider. The filing fee to form an LLC with the Texas Secretary of State ranges from $300-$750 depending on the number of members. Additionally, you may need to pay:

  • A registered agent fee, which can range from $100-$300 per year
  • Accounting fees if you hire an accountant or bookkeeper
  • Attorney fees if you use a business lawyer to help with forming the LLC or drawing up an operating agreement
  • Taxes such as franchise taxes, which for an LLC in Texas can total around 1% of total revenue
  • Licenses and permits required by your industry and location

Carefully projecting these Texas LLC costs before starting your business allows you to budget appropriately. The state fees tend to be straightforward, but services like legal and accounting can vary greatly, so research prices before incorporating.

Economical LLC Formation Options

When starting an LLC in Texas, it’s important to be cost-conscious and choose the most affordable formation option for your business. Here are some economical ways to form your Texas LLC:

  • Use an online service like LegalZoom or Incfile. These services charge $100-150 to prepare your articles of organization and submit the paperwork to the Texas Secretary of State. The convenience makes them worth the reasonable price.
  • Hire an affordable business lawyer. While hiring a business attorney costs more than online services, they can provide personalized advice and ensure everything is done properly. Expect fees of $300-500.
  • File yourself. You can download the forms from the Texas Secretary of State and prepare your own articles of organization. The state filing fees are $300, making this the cheapest way to form an LLC.

Evaluating these economical Texas LLC formation options allows you to register your business while saving money. An affordable LLC gets you official quickly so you can start operating.

Pre-Formation Steps

Before officially forming your Texas LLC, you’ll need to take a few key steps to prepare. This includes:

  • Choose a business name – Select a unique name that is distinguishable from other businesses in Texas. Check name availability by searching the Texas Secretary of State database.
  • Appoint a registered agent – All Texas LLCs must designate a registered agent, an individual or business entity that agrees to accept legal documents on behalf of your LLC. This agent must have a physical address in Texas where they can receive official mail and legal notices.
  • Draft company paperwork – To establish your LLC, you’ll need to file Articles of Organization with the state. This document names your LLC, registers your agent, and more.
  • Create an operating agreement – This document outlines the ownership breakdown, rules, and regulations for your Texas LLC. While not required, it’s highly recommended to set clear expectations between members.

Completing these pre-filing steps allows for the seamless transition into the official formation process. The Texas Secretary of State provides clear guidelines and forms for establishing your LLC under Texas statutes and regulations.

Comparing Business Entity Types

When starting a business in Texas, you have several options for structuring your company. Some of the most common business entities include sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs). Here is a brief comparison of some key factors to consider when choosing an entity type:

  • Liability protection – Sole proprietors and partners in a partnership have unlimited personal liability for debts and legal issues arising from the business. With an LLC or corporation, your personal assets are typically protected from business liabilities.
  • Taxes – Sole proprietors pay personal income tax on business profits. Partnerships, LLCs, and S corporations allow income/losses to pass through to members’ personal tax returns. C corporations pay corporate income tax.
  • Paperwork – Forming an LLC requires filing articles of organization, drafting an operating agreement, obtaining licenses, etc. Forming a corporation also involves quite a bit of formal paperwork and recordkeeping.

Many small business owners choose to form an LLC because it combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership. LLCs also involve less paperwork than forming a corporation. However, consulting a business lawyer or accountant can help you determine the best entity type for your business.

After Filing Your LLC

Once your articles of organization have been filed with the Texas Secretary of State, there are still some important steps you need to take to properly set up your LLC.

Create an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement establishes the financial and functional details for your LLC, like ownership percentages, member responsibilities, voting procedures, rules for assigning interests, and more. While not legally required in Texas, having an operating agreement is highly recommended for any LLC to document internal structure and procedures.

Get an EIN

Obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. This number will be used for identification purposes similar to a social security number. Apply for an EIN online.

Set Up Accounting

Establish accounting procedures for your LLC, like choosing a fiscal year, accounting method (cash or accrual), and setting up bookkeeping and record-keeping systems. You’ll need to keep careful track of income, expenditures, assets and liabilities.

Understand Tax Obligations

As an LLC owner, you will have certain federal and state tax obligations that you must comply with. This includes forms you may need to file and taxes you need to pay. Be sure to understand what taxes apply to your specific LLC.

Following these key steps after officially creating your LLC will ensure you start off on the right foot for operating a legally compliant limited liability company in Texas.

Business Licenses and Permits

When starting an LLC in Texas, you may need to obtain certain business licenses and permits depending on your industry and location. Some common licenses and permits include:

  • Sales tax permit – If selling tangible goods, you need a Texas sales and use tax permit to collect and remit sales tax.
  • Professional licenses – If providing services in a regulated industry like healthcare, legal, accounting, etc. you may need professional licenses.
  • Local permits – Check with your local county and city government to see if you need any location-specific permits or licenses for your operations.

Be sure to research the specific regulatory requirements for your type of business. The Texas Secretary of State website and your local government websites are good places to start. Planning ahead for permits and licenses ensures your new LLC remains compliant from the start.

Growth Considerations for Your LLC

When starting your Texas LLC, it’s important to consider future growth plans and how that might impact your business structure. Here are some key things to think about:

  • Will you want to expand into other states at some point? If so, you may want to register as a foreign LLC when the time comes rather than forming a new LLC entity.
  • How will growth impact your tax situation? Talk to an accountant about changes in tax filing requirements as your LLC revenue increases.
  • Do you plan to take on investors or partners later on? Your LLC operating agreement should account for the possibility with provisions for adding members.

Thinking through these types of growth questions now can save your business significant time and money down the road as your Texas LLC evolves.

Additional Resources

If you still have questions after reviewing the steps on how to form an LLC in Texas, below are some helpful external resources. These sites offer further guidance on business formation, legal compliance, and operations in Texas.

Texas Secretary of State Texas government site with information on forming and managing an LLC in Texas.
Texas Comptroller for Texas taxes, licenses, reporting, and compliance for LLCs.

Reviewing these additional resources can help ensure your new Texas LLC understands all legal and operational requirements. With the proper research and preparation, you will be well on your way to successfully starting your business.


Forming an LLC in Texas provides important legal and tax benefits for small business owners. By following the key steps outlined in this article, you can officially establish your business as a separate legal entity in the state of Texas.

In conclusion, the main steps are:

  • Choose an available business name and register it with the Texas Secretary of State
  • File formation documents (Articles of Organization) and pay filing fees
  • Create an operating agreement to establish ownership terms, rules, and regulations
  • Obtain any necessary business licenses or permits for your industry and location
  • Set up accounting procedures, obtain an EIN, and understand ongoing compliance requirements

Forming an LLC provides liability protection and tax flexibility for your Texas business. With the proper setup, you can focus on running a successful company. Best of luck with your new business venture!


What are the requirements to form an LLC in Texas?

Some key requirements include: choosing an available business name; appointing a registered agent; filing certificate of formation paperwork; creating an operating agreement; obtaining an EIN; and complying with any licensing or regulatory requirements for your industry.

How do I choose a name for my Texas LLC?

You’ll need to pick an available business name that includes a designation like “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC” at the end. You can search name availability on the Texas Secretary of State website before filing.

What are the filing fees for organizing an LLC in Texas?

The filing fee to organize an LLC in Texas is $300 when you file the certificate of formation. You may also have to pay a fee to expedite service.

Do I need a registered agent for my Texas LLC?

Yes, Texas requires all LLCs to appoint a registered agent who has a physical address in Texas to accept legal documents on behalf of the company. The registered agent must consent to the appointment.

What is an operating agreement and does my Texas LLC need one?

An operating agreement establishes rules and procedures for running your LLC in Texas. While not legally required, it’s highly recommended to put an operating agreement in place.

How do I get an EIN for my Texas LLC?

Once your LLC is officially registered, you can apply online for your employer identification number (EIN) through the IRS website. This number is used for federal tax purposes.

Frank Gogol

A seasoned SEO expert, Frank has a long history of working with and for startups. Starting in mid-2018, Frank served as the SEO Strategist for Stilt, a fintech startup that provided fair loans for immigrants in the US and other underserved markets. While with the company, he scaled site traffic from zero to more than 1.5 million unique visits per month, driving the bulk of the company’s lead generation until it was acquired by J.G. Wentworth in December 2022. As employee #5 at Stilt, Frank was witness to, and part of, the successful building and sale of a fintech company, uniquely positioning him to create content for founders about all things startups.