Want to learn how to form an LLC in Wisconsin? The Badger State isn’t just a great place for breweries or dairy farms to set up shop. Thousands of successful corporations call Wisconsin their home.
If you want to join them, then we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll guide you through the entire process of starting an LLC in Wisconsin, from filing an article of organization to opening a business bank account. So, if you’re ready, let’s begin.
Pick a Name for Your Business
The first thing to do when forming your LLC in Wisconsin is to choose a name for your business. We recommend picking a name your target customers find easy to remember and pronounce. You should also ensure that the chosen LLC name relates to your Wisconsin business activities so it’s even easier for clients to remember.
It is also essential to choose a company name that complies with the naming requirements in the US, specifically in Wisconsin. These include the following:
- The chosen name must be unique and distinguishable from any other LLC in Wisconsin.
- Restricted words (like Bank, Attorney, University, etc.) may need additional paperwork and a licensed expert, such as a lawyer or doctor, to be part of your Wisconsin LLC.
- The chosen name should not include words that may confuse your Wisconsin with any government agency, such as the State Department, Treasury, FBI, etc.
- The chosen name for your Wisconsin LLC must include one of the following phrases at the end: “limited liability company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.”
Got a name in mind? Great. Make sure that it’s available by running an LLC name search on the Wisconsin state website.
Finally, ensure that your chosen LLC name is available as a web domain, especially if you want to establish an online business presence.
Get a Registered Agent
It is a legal requirement for your LLC to have a registered agent in the state of Wisconsin. The registered agent assumes several responsibilities, including receiving and forwarding legal and official state documents on behalf of your LLC.
A registered agent in Wisconsin can be a resident of Wisconsin aged 18+ years. This includes yourself or any member of your LLC. Alternatively, you can hire a registered agent service provider.
If you appoint yourself or a member of your LLC to be a registered agent, you must be available during regular business hours in Wisconsin to receive correspondence documents. You must also have a street address in Wisconsin (not a P.O. box address).
If you opt for a registered agent service provider, we recommend the following three best registered agent companies in Wisconsin:
Wisconsin Registered Agent
Wisconsin Registered Agent is a leading service provider that offers everything you need from a top registered agent service company.
For only $49, you will get access to essential compliance services, such as annual report reminders, access to pre-filled state forms, email notifications, online document storage, online account, etc.
Other than the registered agent services, you can hire Wisconsin Registered Agent for LLC formation services like incorporation, filing services, etc. You can find their Wisconsin office in Appleton.
ZenBusiness is a leading name in the registered agent industry. It is voted #1 on MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Forbes and offers everything you will require from a registered agent company.
Not only do they have a wealth of services, but you’ll also find their website and online dashboard are incredibly intuitive and easy to use.
The starting fee for ZenBusiness’ registered agent services is $199 per year.
IncFile is another top registered agent service provider that has helped more than 800,000 remain compliant. It is an ideal choice for business owners who want to purchase an LLC formation service package since you get one year free of the following registered agent services:
- Customized text and email forwarding
- A personal dashboard
- Automatic mail forwarding
- Access to all your essential correspondence in due time.
IncFile registered agent services cost just $119 per year.
File Your Article of Organization
After hiring a registered agent and choosing a name for your Wisconsin LLC, the next step is to register your business with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
The simplest way to register your business in Wisconsin is by filing your Article of Organization online via the Wisconsin Online Business Formation System. It is as easy as filling out an online form and paying the $130 filing fee.
Alternatively, you can register your LLC in Wisconsin by filing an Article of Organization by mail. If you pick this option, you must download and fill out the Wisconsin Article of Organization (Form 502). Then send the filled form and a check or money order for the filing fee of $170 to the following address:
Department of Financial Institutions, Div. of Corporate and Consumer Services
P.O. Box 93348
Madison, WI, 53293-0348
Draft an Operating Agreement
While an Operating Agreement is not a legal requirement for forming an LLC in Wisconsin, it is a vital document for multi-member LLCs because it offers every member guidelines on how the company will be run and the profits shared. Single-member LLC owners can also use an Operating Agreement to prepare to welcome new members to their Wisconsin LLC.
There are several reasons an Operating Agreement is essential in forming an LLC in Wisconsin. This includes:
- It can override some of Winscosin’s default LLC laws.
- It provides proof of LLC ownership.
- It outlines the LLC’s operating procedures, which is vital in preventing future conflicts,
Creating an Operating Agreement for your Wisconsin LLC is a straightforward task. You only need to provide basic details such as the management structure of your LLC, ownership percentages, and the roles and responsibilities of every member.
Most LLC formation companies, such as ZenBusiness, offer Operating Agreement services. If you find it daunting or time-consuming to form an Operating Agreement for your Wisconsin LLC, you can hire their affordable services.
Get Business Licenses and Permits
Neither the Wisconsin Department of Revenue nor the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions requires LLC owners to obtain a general business license. However, this does not mean you won’t need any business licenses and permits.
The nature of your Wisconsin business determines the type of license to obtain and if you need it. For example, LLC owners offering professional services, such as hairdressing, accounting, etc., will need a professional license from Wisconsin’s Department of Professional and Safety Services website.
If your Wisconsin LLC sells tangible goods and services, you must pay sales taxes on everything you sell. Therefore, you should obtain a sales tax license from the Wisconsin Business Licenses Portal. You must pay a $20 filing fee to cover your LLC’s first two years, followed by a renewal fee of $10 per year.
Obtain a Federal Tax ID
Your Wisconsin LLC will require a Federal Tax ID to operate legally. Also called an Employer Identification Number (EIN), you can think of it like a social security number for your business that the IRS uses for tax purposes.
You will also need an EIN if you have more than one employee or plan to hire employees. Also, most banks will require you to provide an EIN when opening a business bank and credit account.
Obtaining an EIN in Wisconsin is straightforward and free of charge. For instance, you only need to visit the IRS website and apply for one. Alternatively, you acquire it by completing Form SS-4, then send the filled form to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) via fax, mail, or web.
International LLC owners, such as foreign business entities, can acquire their EIN by calling 267-941-1099.
Open a Business Bank Account
There are no laws in Wisconsin that require LLC owners to have a separate business bank and credit account. However, using your personal account for LLC expenses can result in severe penalties if it seems like you are missing personal and LLC finances. It could lead to accusations of tax evasion or personal asset protection. Therefore, the best thing Wisconsin LLC owners should do is to open a business bank and credit account.
A checking business account is the most common type of bank account opened by most LLCs in Wisconsin, as it can handle expenses and income quickly.
Opening a business bank and credit account in Wisconsin is straightforward, and the requirements and fees vary from one bank to another. At the very minimum, you will need an EIN, an Operating Agreement, an Article of Organization, and a small initial deposit.
Consider using one of the following banks in Wisconsin:
Buy Business Insurance
Starting a business in Wisconsin as an LLC means that your personal assets are protected from financial obligations, such as lawsuits, that your LLC may have. However, it is also essential to protect your LLC from such cases, which is why you need to purchase relevant business insurance policies.
Although most insurance policies are not required in Wisconsin, we recommend having at least the basic insurance policy.
Some of the most common insurance policies for Wisconsin LLCs include the following:
- Professional liability insurance: Required by professional service providers to protect against malpractices and business errors.
- Workers’ compensation insurance: Required by Wisconsin LLCs that have one or more employees, and it provides coverage against on-job illnesses, injuries, or even death.
- General liability insurance: It covers broad lawsuits such as those related to property damage and injuries.
Streamline Things with an LLC Formation Package
Forming an LLC in Wisconsin can be a time-consuming and daunting task. Fortunately, you can hire an LLC formation company to streamline and speed up the process.
Hundreds of LLC formation packages are available for business owners in Wisconsin; some are even free of charge.
For example, ZenBusiness has a comprehensive Starter LLC formation package that includes all the tools and resources required to form your Wisconsin. You will only need to pay the state filing fee. ZenBusiness also has two other packages: Pro ($199) and Premium ($299). These packages include added features and tools that make the LLC formation process much easier and faster. These include worry-free compliance, domain name, and expedited filing.
LegalZoom is another top LLC formation company that offers three formation packages. Just like ZenBusiness, their Basic LLC formation package is free of charge; you will only need to cover the state filing fee. If you don’t mind spending some extra cash on forming your LLC, you can purchase their Pro or Premium packages.
FAQs About Forming an LLC in Wisconsin
How Long Will It Take to Form My Wisconsin LLC?
If you file your Article of Organization online, you can get your LLC formed in Wisconsin immediately. It will take around two weeks if you file via mail. However, if you prefer filing by mail but want your LLC formed faster, you can pay for the expedited processing.
How Much Does It Cost to Set Up an LLC in Wisconsin?
Depending on the filing method, it costs between $130 to $170 to form your LLC in Wisconsin. This is the fee for filing the Article of Organization. You will also need to pay a $15 fee to reserve your business name and another $15 filing fee for each trademark you want.
Can I Act as my Own Registered Agent in Wisconsin?
Yes. Wisconsin state laws allow you to nominate yourself or any member of your LLC as a registered agent. However, you must meet the requirements of being a registered agent in Wisconsin. For example, you must be a permanent Wisconsin resident over the age of 18. You must also be available during all Wisconsin business hours to receive legal and state documents. Moreover, you have a street address in Wisconsin (a P.O. box address may not be enough).
Can I Form a Single-Member LLC in Wisconsin?
Yes. You can form a single-member Wisconsin LLC by following the steps discussed in this guide. Be sure to comply with all the guidelines and requirements of forming a single-member LLC in Wisconsin.
We hope you enjoyed reading our article on forming an LLC in Wisconsin. Starting a business in Wisconsin isn’t all that difficult, but there’s no shame in using an LLC formation package to speed up the process.