There are a few different options when it comes to starting a business in Wisconsin. From a legal perspective, there are three main types of Wisconsin for-profit business entities: LLCs, S Corporations or C Corporations. We believe an LLC provides the right mix of liability protection and ease of administration for most entrepreneurs.
In order to create an LLC in the state of Wisconsin, there are some minimum legal requirements you must meet. These are a completed set of Articles of Organization, a business name and a fee you pay to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. 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 Wisconsin business.
- Write an Operating Agreement that covers how you will run your LLC.
After you’ve created your Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin, you register a business by completing and filing your Articles of Organization with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. You will need to gather information about your business, fill out the form and send it to the Department of Financial Institutions along with your filing fee. This will legally form your LLC in Wisconsin.
At the time of writing the fee charged by the Wisconsin Department of State is $170 if you mail it in. You can save $40 by filing online, or letting Incfile complete the filing for you. You can always check the latest Wisconsin filing fees here. You can also pay an additional $25 for expedited filing through Incfile, which will create your LLC faster. 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 Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to formally create your LLC. If you pay an additional $25 expedited fee, your LLC can be formed in as little as 2 days.
There are a few ways to register your Wisconsin LLC name.
- If you’re starting a new business and your business name is unique in Wisconsin 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, you need to file Articles of Amendment with the Department of Financial Institutions.
- If you just want to do business under a different name, file a Trademark/Tradename Registration with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, 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 some other states, the formal documents that you file to form a corporation or LLC might be known as Articles of Incorporation. In Wisconsin, this document is called your Articles of Organization, and it performs the same functions as the Articles of Incorporation.
In short, yes the state of Wisconsin allows the creation of a Series LLC, however the legislation in place doesn't specifically provide separate liability protections for the different series in the Series LLC. 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 Wisconsin Registered Agent you can do so at any time by filing a Notice of Change with the Department of Financial Institutions. Here at Incfile, we provide a free Wisconsin 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 Notice of Change on your behalf.
If you need to know the Registered Agent of a specific Wisconsin business, can perform a Wisconsin Registered Agent search within the state's business database.
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
Wisconsin charges a 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.
You will need to register for a sales tax or seller permit with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. You can complete this process online.
The base rate for Wisconsin sales tax is 5 percent, however 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.
Some businesses will need to pay a corporate franchise tax in Wisconsin, however it does not apply to LLCs unless your LLC is treated as a C Corporation for tax purposes.
Your business may be required to obtain certain business licenses in order to operate in Wisconsin. 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.