How Much Does It Cost to Start an LLC in Wisconsin?
Legal business registration and keeping your business in good standing with the state involves investment on your part. Some of these costs are payable to the WI Department of Financial Institutions (WI DFI), while others are due to the federal or other state government entity. We’ve covered some of the most common requirements and fees below.
Note that Wisconsin business licenses and permit fees may need to be paid for when you first form your business, on an ongoing schedule or on an ad hoc basis. Find more details below.
Initial Wisconsin LLC Fees
When you first form your business in Wisconsin, you’ll need to file as an LLC with the WI DFI and pay a filing fee. Here are the current fees and filing times:
When you form through Incfile, we automatically charge you this fee and forward it to the WI Department of Financial Institutions when we file your formation paperwork.
Employer Identification Number
Every LLC in the U.S. should secure a unique Employer Identification Number (EIN). These are provided by the Internal Revenue Service, and you use it when you file taxes, open a business bank account and pay employees. You can obtain one yourself at no cost from the IRS or have Incfile do it for you.
When you want to do business in a state other than the one where your business is based, you must create a foreign LLC.
Wisconsin Foreign LLC Registration
Before you can bring an arm of your business from another state into Wisconsin, you must request Wisconsin Foreign Qualification. This means the state gives you permission to conduct business there.
To request registration of a Wisconsin Foreign LLC, you must complete a Foreign Limited Liability Company Application for Certificate of Registration and pay a $100 filing fee. The state may have additional requirements, so contact the WI Department of Financial Institutions for more information.
Foreign Qualification to Operate in Another State
If you plan to expand your Wisconsin LLC into another state, you’ll first need a Foreign Qualification or a Certificate of Authority from that state. This is necessary if you'll have a physical presence, employees or banking in that state.
You'll likely be required to complete an application and pay a filing fee, but each state has different requirements. To plan accordingly, compare state filing times and state filing fees first. Also, contact the state government entity that administers business (usually the Secretary of State) to confirm their requirements and get specific instructions.
If you need assistance, Incfile provides a complete Foreign Qualification service for all states.
Annual Report Requirements
Most states — including Wisconsin — require businesses to file an annual (or other periodic) report with the government entity that administers business formation and management. In many states, that's the Secretary of State. In this case, it's the WI Department of Financial Institutions.
If you file your annual report by mail, the fee is $25. If you file online, there's a $1 online processing fee. Here are the annual filing requirements for Wisconsin:
Based on anniversary date
Jan 1 - Mar 31: Mar 31
Apr 1 - Jun 30: Jun 30
Jul 1 - Sep 30: Sep 30
Oct 1 - Dec 31: Dec 31
During first calendar quarter of each year following calendary year in the LLC becomes registered.
*includes online processing fee
Wisconsin Business Licenses and Permits
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure you have the proper state, federal or local business licenses to operate your LLC. Some of these fees only need to be paid once, while others are ongoing charges.
Permits and licenses vary based on:
Wisconsin doesn’t require you to have an Operating Agreement for your LLC.
An Operating Agreement is a document that covers how the business will be run, how managers and members are chosen, rights and duties of members and several other key facets of your business.
This document can be extremely helpful in making sure you’re organized and prepared for any future events that may affect your business.
You can make changes to the template based on your unique requirements.
Other Potential Wisconsin LLC Fees or Requirements
You may need to pay and meet several other fees and requirements during the life of your LLC. These ad hoc fees are only payable under certain circumstances, which are listed below.
Reserving a Name for Your LLC
If you don’t want to form your LLC right away, you can reserve a business name for 120 days with the WI Department of Financial Institutions by filing a form and paying a fee of $15. First, perform a Wisconsin business search and learn about rules pertaining to business names to ensure the name you choose meets all state requirements.
Amending Certain Facts About Your LLC
Your business formation documents cover certain facts about your Wisconsin business when it's formed, but over time, these facts may change. If that happens, you need to file an Articles of Amendment form with the WI Department of Financial Institutions and pay a $40 fee. You can do this yourself or have Incfile file the form on your behalf.
Getting a Certificate of Good Standing
Some organizations will request that you prove your LLC’s compliance with laws and tax requirements. If you need to prove you've met your commitments, you’ll need a Wisconsin Certificate of Good Standing from the WI Department of Financial Institutions. You can order one online for a fee of $10.
The fees listed above detail many of the charges a standard WI LLC will be required to pay. In some unusual circumstances, you may encounter other one-off, periodic or ad hoc fees not listed above.
Of course, your LLC will also most likely need to pay self-employment, payroll, federal, state and sales taxes. More information about taxes can be found on the Wisconsin Business Taxes page.