There are a few different options when it comes to forming a business in Washington. From a legal perspective, there are three main types of Washington for-profit business entities: LLCs, S Corporations or C Corporations. At Incfile we believe an LLC provides the right mix of liability protection and ease of administration for most entrepreneurs.
In order to form an LLC in the state of Washington, there are some minimum requirements you must meet. These are a completed set of Articles of Organization, a business name and a fee you pay to the WA Secretary of State Corporations and Charities Division. We recommend taking some other steps before formally starting your LLC:
- Research your target market to make sure there’s a demand for the products and services you provide.
- Read industry guides to give you a starting point in your niche.
- Create a comprehensive business plan that defines the most important aspects of your Washington business.
- Write an Operating Agreement that covers how you will run your LLC.
After you’ve created your Washington LLC, you will also need to review your business license requirements, understand ongoing filing needs, set up a separate business bank account and get an accountant.
In Washington, you register a business by completing and filing your Articles of Organization with the Washington SOS Corporations and Charities Division. You will need to gather information about your business, fill out the form and send it to the Secretary of State with your filing fee. This will formally create your Washington LLC.
You can file your Articles of Organization on the Secretary of State website or mail it in. Alternatively, Incfile can guide you through every step of the process by getting details from you and filing the form on your behalf — for free! There’s no additional charge for our basic LLC filing service, so all you need to do is pay the Washington state filing fee.
At the time of writing the fee charged by the Washington Secretary of State is $200. You can always check the latest Washington filing fees here. You can also pay an additional $20 or $50 for expedited filing through Incfile, which will create your LLC faster. The amount of the expedited fee is dependent on whether you file online or in person. Some LLC filing services do charge you extra to prepare and submit your filing documents, but at Incfile, we do this for free — so you only pay the state fee.
Once you’ve gathered all of your information together and filed your Articles of Organization (or had Incfile do it for you), it can take up to a week for the Washington Secretary of State to legally create your LLC. If you pay an additional $20 or $50 expedited fee, your LLC can be formed in as little as two days.
There are a few ways to register your Washington LLC name.
- If you’re creating a new business and your business name is unique in Washington and meets state naming rules, you simply include it in your Articles of Organization.
- If you want to change the legal name of your business, file a Certificate of Amendment with the Secretary of State.
- If you just want to do business under a different name, apply for a business license as a DBA with the Washington Department of Revenue, or we can do that on your behalf.
If you want to prevent people from using your business name across the U.S., you can file a trademark for the name. We can help.
In other states, the formal documents that you file to form a corporation or LLC might be known as Articles of Incorporation. In Washington, this document is called your Articles of Organization or Certificate of Formation, and it performs the same functions as the Articles of Incorporation.
No, Washington is not among the states that have adopted Series LLC legislation. A Series LLC is a special type of LLC where you create one “overall” business and then have individual, series LLCs within it, each counted as separate legal entities.
If you wish to change your Washington Registered Agent you can do so by logging into your account with the Washington SOS Corporations and Charities Division and filing the change online. Here at Incfile, we provide a free Washington Registered Agent service for the first year if you file through us. If you’ve been using a different Registered Agent and want to switch to us, we’ll file the change on your behalf.
If you need to know the Registered Agent of a specific Washington business, you can perform a Washington Registered Agent search within the state's Advanced Business Search.
As an LLC, any business profits you earn will be reported on your personal 1040 filing and reported and taxed as “pass-through” income. You will typically need to pay:
- Self-employment or payroll tax on all business profits
- Federal income tax on profits after you meet your tax-free allowance
- Sales tax for selling taxable products and services
Washington is one of the few states that doesn't levy an income tax at a personal and corporate level. It does however levy a business and occupation (B&O) tax, which your Washington LLC may be subject to.
Washington charges a 6.5 percent state sales and use tax on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods. You will also need to pay sales tax if you provide a taxable service. You can find a full list of taxable services here.
The base rate for Washington sales tax is 6.5 percent, and there may be additional sales tax depending on your region, county or city. Once you know your overall sales tax amount, calculate the value of all your taxable products and services. Then, multiply that by your sales tax rate to understand how much you will need to pay.
Once your LLC’s sales tax application is approved, you will receive a letter with instructions on how often you must file a sales tax return and pay sales taxes. Returns and payments may be due monthly, quarterly or annually.
In Washington monthly returns are due on the 25th of every month, quarterly returns are due at the end of the month following the tax quarter, and annual returns are due April 15.
In the state of Washington, both individuals and businesses are not required to pay any income tax. However, people or businesses that conduct any business within the state are required to pay business and occupation tax. This B&O tax is calculated on the gross income from activities, meaning that there are no deductions from the B&O tax for labor, materials, taxes, or other costs of doing business.
The B&O tax rate varies by business classification. If you know the classification of your business, reference the list of B&O tax rates to find the rate that you'll be required to pay.
The types of business licenses you need will vary depending on your type of business, industry, location and various other factors. We can research the types of business licenses you might need for you.