How to Start an LLC in Wisconsin: If you’re looking to start a Wisconsin LLC, you’ve come to the right page. Setting up an LLC is easy and cost-effective. To form an LLC, you must follow a few steps that include naming your LLC, hiring a registered agent, filing your formation documents, doing the operating agreement, and finally obtaining the EIN. You can easily set up your LLC at a very low cost in Wisconsin. Though, you must pay the mandatory state filing fee. These fees and charges can be tax deductible, making the LLC formation cost almost negligible.
On this page, You’ll find all the steps that must be taken to ensure that your Wisconsin LLC has been correctly formed. We recommend you read the whole article very carefully, word by word, don’t miss anything 🙂
On this page, you’ll learn about the following:
- How to Start an LLC in Wisconsin
- After Starting Your Wisconsin LLC
- Wisconsin Foreign LLC
- Wisconsin LLC Formation Review
How to Start an LLC in Wisconsin
An LLC (aka Limited Liability Company) is a hybrid business entity combining a corporation’s characteristics with a partnership or sole proprietorship. It separates your personal assets from your business assets, thus giving you personal asset protection. For an LLC, members’ personal assets are not affected by business debts. However, in some cases, if the LLC is sued for business debts, courts might pierce the corporate veil and use the owner’s personal assets to meet their corporate liabilities.
If you wish to start an LLC, you must file your Articles of Organization with the State and pay a filing fee of $130. While it’s the most important step, it’s not the only one. There are 4 other crucial steps to follow to get your LLC formed in Wisconsin. Below are all 5 steps that explain everything you need to do to start a Wisconsin LLC in 2023. Let’s get started! You can always hire a professional LLC formation service in Wisconsin to set up your LLC instead of doing it alone; a Pro service will ensure everything is done properly.
Step 1: Decide a Name for Your Wisconsin LLC
The very first step while forming an LLC in the state of Wisconsin is to give a proper name to your LLC. Before you name your business, you must know that the name should be easy to remember, available in the state, and follows all the LLC naming guidelines.
LLC Naming Guidelines in Wisconsin
There are a few specific requirements all the LLCs in Wisconsin have to follow while naming their Company. Some of the most important requirements are as follows:
- Your business name should be available and no other existing business in Wisconsin can have the same name. ZenBusiness offers unlimited business name searches without any hassle.
- “Limited Liability Company”, “LLC”, and “L.L.C.” – any one of these has to be used as a suffix in your business name.
- You cannot use any name for your business that is confusing or misleading. Terms such as “Treasury”, “State Department”, “FBI”, “CIA”, etc. shouldn’t be included.
- Terms like “Bank“, “University“, “Attorney“, “Doctor“, etc can be added only after the additional requirements by Wisconsin State Government are fulfilled.
- (Optional) It’s better to name your business something for which your desired domain is available.
|Important Links –||Submit Offline Form to –|
|Wisconsin Business Entity Search – Online Name Search|
Name Reservation Form – PDF
Name Availability Standards – Guidelines
Wisconsin LLC Name Search – Instructions
|Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions|
4822 Madison Yards Way, North Tower
Madison, WI 53705
Reserve Business Name for Future
If you do not wish to file your LLC right now but want to hold the name you have decided, then you can reserve your LLC name for 120 days. To keep the name, you must file a name reservation application and pay $15 to reserve your name with the Wisconsin Secretary of State. By paying $25, you can expedite the process.
Doing Business As (DBA) or Trade Name
Once you have a legal name for your LLC, you can register it. However, it is not mandatory. You can, instead, use DBA, Fictitious Name, or Trade Name. In that case, you must register your name with the Wisconsin Secretary of State by submitting an Application to Register Trade Name in Wisconsin, along with the filing fee of $15.
Recommended: You can do name search, business domain, website, emails, and a lot more in one place by hiring a professional service. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 for LLC Formation)
Apart from LLC formation, ZenBusiness offers customized website templates and business emails at a very reasonable price. If you plan to get a website, then it is wise to have a “.com” domain for your business, but these days you can also use other TLDs like “.io”, “.company”, “.xyz,” etc. Here you can get everything you need for your business in one dashboard.
It is not legally mandatory to use the word LLC in your domain name or email. If you want, you can use it. However, it is recommended not to use LLC in the domain name. A domain name should be short and easy to remember.
Step 2: Assign a Registered Agent in Wisconsin
The second step to forming an LLC in Wisconsin is to appoint a Registered Agent. A registered agent is a person or business entity working on your LLC’s behalf. This person or business will receive important tax forms, legal documents, all notices of lawsuits, and other official government correspondence in Wisconsin. Hence, hiring a competent Wisconsin Registered Agent for your LLC is necessary.
Make sure your registered agent is a resident of Wisconsin or has a physical street address. This address will be used as the principal address of your LLC to receive any legal documents. Most LLC formation companies also provide registered agent services. Below are two great LLC formation services; even if you buy their cheapest plan (normally $0), you also get registered agent service and other services at a very reasonable price.
These two are our top recommendations for registered agent service, as they are competent and authorized to conduct business in Wisconsin. Some LLC formation services also offer standalone Wisconsin registered agent services. You can purchase only Registered Agent services without purchasing any other LLC formation services. This standalone service might become handy if you are doing it yourself and don’t want to disclose your home address or you don’t want to pierce the corporate veil.
A person above 18 years of age and has a physical address in the state of Wisconsin can be a Registered Agent. A Registered Agent can be an independent person or can be a business entity. One is responsible for handling all the legal documents on the LLCs behalf.
Yes, you can be your own registered agent if you are a resident of the state of Wisconsin and you are above 18 years of age. To become a registered agent, you must have the authority to conduct any type of business in Wisconsin.
There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t be your own registered agent. The address of the registered agent is used to communicate with the SOS or for any legal activities. If you are your own registered agent, you might have to upload your personal address to the public forum. Besides, the registered agent must be at the address during business hours. It won’t be easy for you as you also have to take care of other things in your LLC. Hence, it is wiser to appoint a separate entity as your registered agent.
If an LLC is sued in Wisconsin, in some cases, courts might decide to lift the corporate veil, which means the owners of the LLC will be personally liable for their business debts. They might have to forgo their personal assets to repay their business debts. This is called piercing the corporate veil, where personal and business assets are not separated anymore. Your personal assets can be protected if you have enough capital and all your LLC documents are properly filed.
Registered Agent Consent Application
In Wisconsin, there is no separate Consent Letter to be produced to the Secretary of State. At the time of change of Registered Agent (or the name or address), the new Registered Agent has to sign the consent letter. It comes with the Application form to Change the Registered Agent. The filing fee of $10 should be paid for it. For more information on the same, read our guide on Wisconsin Registered Agent.
Step 3: File Articles of Organization in Wisconsin
The third and most important step in forming an LLC is to file the Articles of Organization. This Wisconsin Articles of Organization is a legal document that is required to register your business with the Wisconsin Secretary of State. It costs $130 (online and $170 by mail) to file your formation certificate in Wisconsin. (Read more on LLC cost in Wisconsin).
The Articles of Organization include details like the name of the LLC, the registered agent’s name, address, employees’ details, and the company’s structure (member-managed or manager-managed). Before hiring employees in Wisconsin LLC, one should know about the rules and regulations thoroughly. Also, if you are expanding your existing business (an LLC) in other states to Wisconsin, you must register as a Wisconsin Foreign LLC.
How to File Online
Go to the Secretary of State Online Service. You will get the online service page. It does not need you to log in or register with the portal. You can directly start filing your LLC by clicking on the “Online Filing” button below. Read more about the Wisconsin Articles of Organization for online registration.
How to File by Mail
If you prefer filing real-life forms for your LLC registration, you can download Domestic LLC Formation Form. Read the form thoroughly, fill it out, and mail it to the following address,
State of WI – Dept. of Financial Institutions
P.O. Box 93348
Milwaukee, WI 53293
Processing Time: Normally, it takes around 5 business days (approx) to get your LLC formed in Wisconsin. The processing time for online filing might be a little faster than offline filing. With an additional cost, you can get expedited filing as well. However, the document processing time can be changed due to various factors.
Recommended: Online LLC Formation service can provide all these documents way faster than usual time with lifetime customer support and 100% accuracy. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Every LLC owner has to pay the filing fees to register their business in Wisconsin. This fee is mandatory but also tax deductible. If you’re doing it yourself (filing on your own), it will not cost you any additional service fee. However, it is not feasible to do that as the DIY process might be delayed, complicated, and messy, especially if you’re a novice entrepreneur. Hence, it is recommended to get professional guidance to get your LLC formed in Wisconsin.
Step 4: Create Your LLC Operating Agreement in Wisconsin
Moving on to the fourth step, filing your operating agreement. An operating agreement is an internal document that legally outlines the proprietorship and operating procedures of your LLC. This document is vital as it ensures that all business owners are on the same page regarding how they operate, thus reducing future conflicts.
When it comes to filing a Wisconsin LLC Operating Agreement, the state does not require you to have a comprehensive operating agreement, but it is ideal to have one that contains all the details of your business operation that helps in taking future business decisions, especially if you decide to dissolve Wisconsin LLC later. Hence, having an operating agreement may not be necessary, but it is surely ideal.
Recommended: You can get a professionally made operating agreement for very less cost with ZenBusiness. You don’t need to worry about drafting it as they will take care of it on your behalf. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
The operating agreement draft can be created for free if you don’t hire a professional. However, there is an advantage to appointing a proficient person/service. You will get a businesslike quality operating agreement at a very cheap fee, which will help you in the future. Hiring a professional service means you can sleep well at night 🙂
Step 5: Filing an LLC EIN in Wisconsin
The Employer Identification Number (aka EIN) is a nine-digit number given by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to make it easier to identify the type of business for tax purposes and taxes in general. The EIN is necessary for any active business or any form of business.
EIN is needed when the LLC hires employees. Hiring employees in Wisconsin LLC requires following specific rules and regulations. On the other side, EIN for Wisconsin foreign LLC should be obtained if your LLC is based in other states.
To obtain EIN (aka FEIN), one must fill up a form (Online or by mail) and submit it to the IRS. Enter details of your LLC, and finally, complete the form and send it to the address given. You can also get an EIN Assistant to help you with the process.
Mail to: Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EIN Operation, Cincinnati, OH 45999
Fax: (855) 641-6935 | Fee: Free
Recommended: This hassle will be reduced when you hire an LLC formation service. They take care of obtaining EIN and all other things for your LLC. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Note: You don’t need a Social Security number when getting an EIN. You can proceed to fill out I.R.S. Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. You must then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Agents or employees will help you with that.
Congratulations, you are now done with all the necessary steps to form your Limited Liability Company in Wisconsin. If you do it yourself, it should take you a long time to understand and do all the steps properly.
However, if you use ZenBusiness, it should be way faster. You will always have a live chat option and phone support with experts for any help you need. Their worry-free service will make things easier for you.
After Starting Your Wisconsin LLC
After forming your LLC, there are still some things that you will need. The most important thing is to separate your business and personal assets. LLCs have limited liability protection that protects your personal assets from business liability. This is called a corporate veil. However, the corporate veil can be lifted or pierced by the court if the LLC is sued. In that case, the owners of the LLC become personally liable for their corporate debts. A few things like appointing a legit registered agent, having enough capital, and filing all the major documents with the state can save the LLCs from being pierced into the corporate veil.
Apart from that, there are a few things you need to take note of,
- Get a company business bank account
- File Wisconsin business permits & licenses. Business licenses are required to conduct business legally.
- Get general liability insurance and professional liability insurance with coverage for employees.
- File a Wisconsin LLC annual report or biennial report
This page has provided you with steps to LLC formation and filing processes. You now have to remember upcoming filing deadlines and filing fees or filing costs, including fees for late filings, to make sure your LLC is up-to-date.
Cost of Starting an LLC in the State of Wisconsin
LLCs can be formed by spending very less price. Apart from the mandatory state filing fees, you don’t have to bear additional service charges if you do it yourself. Following are the fees and taxes LLCs in Wisconsin must pay to register and run a business in the state. Forming an LLC is no doubt cost-effective compared to other business structures. However, the fees and charges (tax-deductible) that you must pay to the state, such as name reservation fee, name filing fee, LLC filing fee, and Franchise Tax & Sales Tax (If applicable). Here are the main fees and taxes you must pay while forming your limited liability company in Wisconsin,
|Fees/Tax||Amount to be Paid|
|Name Reservation Fee||$15|
|Name Reservation Fee (Expedited Fee)||$25|
|Certificate of Formation Fee||$170 (by mail and $130 online)|
|LLC Annual Fee||$25|
In Wisconsin, an LLC name reservation is not mandatory. You can register your LLC name at the time of registering your LLC. If you wish to hold the name for some time without registering your LLC, then you can do that online. Your LLC name will be reserved for 120 days without registering your LLC. It can be done by paying $15.
In Wisconsin, an Annual Report has to be produced every year. It costs $25. Also, the State of Wisconsin requires LLCs to pay a Sales Tax of 5% every year. Read our guide on LLC costs in Wisconsin for more information.
Wisconsin Foreign LLC
If you are interested in forming a Foreign LLC in the state of Wisconsin, then you need to file the Certificate of Foreign LLC to the Wisconsin Secretary of State. Foreign LLCs allow you to operate your business in more than one state. Along with the Certificate of Foreign LLC, you need to submit some more documents, like the Certificate of Good Standing, etc. to the Wisconsin SOS to form your foreign LLC in the state of Wisconsin. foreign limited liability company in the state of Wisconsin. A foreign limited company will have all the above-mentioned documents, such as a foreign limited liability company agreement, registered agent, certificate of good standing, and such documents. To know more in detail, check out our guide on Wisconsin Foreign LLC.
Reasons to Start an LLC in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a popular state in the United States today. Not just being the ‘Dairyland’ of the nation, but also for its strong economy. Also, the state is the heart of food businesses. The state has more than thousands of active LLCs at this moment operating in different locations. Lately, the state has become one of the favorite spots for small and new businesses for its vast tax benefits and incentives. LLCs are easy to form in terms of management structures or business entity structures. There is no personal liability for any business expense. It takes 1-3 business days to form your LLC. In future, if business dissolution takes place, it will be easier for the members.
Along with the reduction in tax liabilities, the state offers various business funding options. Some of the benefits are discussed below,
Wisconsin Enterprise Zones – Tax Credit
If a limited liability co. Starting its operation in Wisconsin Enterprise Zone or expanding the existing business, the LLC can enjoy huge tax benefits. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has initiated this program under which existing and new businesses will get tax credits and other benefits. Job creation projects, development projects, and such projects will get the advantage of this program. Read more on Wisconsin’s classification of LLC tax.
Development Opportunity Zones – Tax Credit
Another program Wisconsin offers is the DOZ tax credit. Under this program, if a Wisconsin limited liability company starts its operation in Beloit, Janesville, or Kenosha, it may receive tax benefits. If your LLC involves job retention, job creation, development of stressful areas, and high capital investment in such areas, then you may enjoy the credits and incentives.
A certain type of business in Wisconsin gets freed from sales and use tax. As a start-up, if you operate businesses like manufacturing materials and equipment, pollution abatement, waste management, recycling materials, equipment, etc., you might get freed from the tax.
Flexible and Easy Profit Distribution
Unlike a partnership, the profit distribution in LLCs is not equal or 50%. The profit-sharing in LLCs is flexible and depends on the amount of contribution by each member. Also, it is much easier to file LLC documents if you have a registered agent to lend a hand.
Best Businesses in Wisconsin
If you have decided to form an LLC in the state of Wisconsin, it must be the best decision to see the state’s business environment. But before you take any business decision, you should know the state’s overall economy and its top businesses. In the below-mentioned detail, you will get an overview of the following.
Agriculture based businesses
The state is known to produce around 26% of the nation’s cheese with the help of more than a million cows present in the state. More than 8,000 licensed dairy farms in the state produce around 3,37 billion cheeses in a year, with the help of which dairy farms alone have earned $5.4 billion.
Apart from dairy businesses, the state has the best in the class production of potatoes and corn. The state has around 68,700 farms contributing a total amount of $104.8 billion to the state GDP.
Manufacturing is the state’s biggest business industry, which is contributing more than $63.31 billion to the state. There are more than 7,737 active manufacturing firms in the state that are employing more than 475,000 workers. Top products that are manufactured in the state are:-
- Fabricated Metal Products
- Paper industry food and Beverages
- Tobacco products
- Computer and electronic services
- Aerospace equipment
All of these business firms provide 44% of employment to the state’s working population. Also, manufacturing has exported around $21.24 billion of goods, most of which are produced by small businesses.
The healthcare sector accounts to have produced around 92,930 jobs in the state. The healthcare industries have exponential growth, which is shown with the help of health insurance rates. More than 87% of people own health insurance, and the industry mainly aims to provide insurance to low-income families.
Some of the small income businesses that are running in the state are:-
- Health and beauty care business
- Automobile repairing business
- Sports and recreational business
Wisconsin LLC Formation Review
Time needed: 5 minutes
Just to recap, here are the easy steps again when forming an LLC in Wisconsin. Click on the steps in this list to read the full detail.
- Name your Wisconsin LLC
The first thing you must do is to choose a company name, which should be unique, easy to find, and available in the state.
- Choose a Registered Agent
In Wisconsin, it is mandatory to select a registered agent for your LLC. Get a professional Registered Agent from LLC formation services to get things done hassle-free.
- File a Formation Certificate
Filing a formation certificate is necessary when forming a Limited Liability Company in Wisconsin. Depending on the state, it could be called any of the following: Certificate of Formation, Articles of Organization, or Certificate of Organization.
- Create an Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is not a strict requirement in Wisconsin, but something encouraged when you start an LLC to avoid future conflicts.
- Get an EIN
The Employer Identification Number (EIN), also called Federal Tax Identification Number, serves to identify a business entity, like a social security number, but for a company.
Things to Consider While Starting an LLC in the State of Wisconsin
This article has an important step-by-step process to start your LLC in the said state. However, there are a few things one must consider while setting up your liability company. The very first thing is your limited liability company name. You can easily search for a suitable one in the business name database. Entrepreneurs can reserve their business names before they file their LLCs. Business formation service providers offer business name reservation service at a reasonable price.
The next big thing is to get a business website. Get an ideal domain for your website. If you go for a professional service provider, you will get a domain name search tool and domain name registration service. You can get a preliminary domain for your dream business at a reasonable price.
The next is the registered agent requirement. All the main requirements are mentioned above in the 2nd step. LLCs have to file their agent’s name while filing their LLCs. They send the notice to the agent with instructions written on them. Agents have to follow those instructions while operating. They have to be present in their official address during regular business hours.
After that, you need to file your LLC. The filling speed can be increased with rush filing service. With Wisconsin state filing, you can expedite the filing as well. There are many methods of filing. Online filing, filing by mail, fax filing (in a few states), and in-person filing.
LLCs are required to file taxes. Filing taxes are important as it can lead to heavy penalty. LLCs need to file personal tax returns. a single-member LLC is taxed like a sole proprietorship. When it comes to business taxes, LLCs have very less tax burden. LLCs do not have double taxation. They must file personal income tax returns and other federal tax returns with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
The formation process of an LLC is much easier than others. It has flexible management that helps in taking management decisions correctly. However, there are things that need professional supervision. For example, with professional services, you will get worry-free compliance service, amendment filing service, and also filing speed with them is more than normal time.
When it comes to having an LLC, you need to get your business accounts and business credit cards. If you have a separate account for your LLC, it keeps your personal expenses and business transactions separate. For any legal business entity or an individual business owner, having separate accounts is required. Besides, various other business tools can be used if you are starting your LLC on a large basis.
To form an LLC, you must have a proper business idea. With professional help, you will get business experts who will guide you in implementing your business formation plans. LLCs protect your personal assets from any business liability. Also, LLCs are not directly taxed. It depends on the individual business income and how the members will be taxed.
How Fast Can I Form an LLC in Wisconsin
When filing online for LLC in Wisconsin, the process can be completed immediately, after the payment is done. In person filing may take up to 5 business days.
Fortunately, establishing an LLC in Wisconsin is generally a straightforward process, thanks to the efficiency and accessibility of the state’s administrative services. However, it is crucial to follow the necessary steps and comply with all regulations to ensure a smooth and expeditious formation.
The process begins by selecting a name for your LLC. It is important to create a unique and distinguishable name that complies with Wisconsin’s requirements. Conduct a thorough search on the state’s business entity name database to check for any conflicts or infringements. Once you have an appropriate name, you may reserve it in advance to ensure its availability for a fee of $15.
The next step is to prepare and file the articles of organization with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). These articles outline essential details about the LLC, such as its name, purpose, registered agent, and management structure. This document can be filed online, by mail, or in-person. If you choose the online filing option, the process is usually the quickest, with instant delivery of your receipt and the filed document.
Following the submission of the articles of organization, it is mandatory to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. This unique identifier is essential for tax purposes and hiring employees. The EIN can be obtained through an online application, typically issued immediately upon completion.
While there is no official requirement to draft an LLC operating agreement in Wisconsin, it is highly recommended that you do so. This internal document defines the roles, responsibilities, and voting power of the LLC’s members, thus fostering a clear understanding and efficient operation of the business.
Once these crucial steps have been completed, the initial formation process of your LLC is largely finished. Nevertheless, there are a few additional measures to consider. It is important to fulfill any local and county-specific requirements, such as obtaining permits or licenses, specific to your business activities.
Furthermore, annual reports must be filed with the DFI to maintain the LLC’s good standing. These reports generally request reaffirmation of basic business details, allowing the state to update its records accurately. Non-compliance may result in fines or, ultimately, administrative dissolution of the LLC.
While timing can vary, it is not uncommon for an LLC formation in Wisconsin to be complete within a week to several weeks after submission, provided all necessary steps and requirements are satisfied promptly. However, external factors like current workload, holidays, or peak periods might extend the process.
Remember, forming an LLC may require consultation with specialized professionals, such as attorneys or business advisers, to ensure compliance with legal and financial aspects. Seeking professional guidance can certainly expedite the process while offering enhanced confidence in the formation of your Wisconsin LLC.
In conclusion, forming an LLC in Wisconsin can be a relatively straightforward process that enables entrepreneurs like yourself to start their businesses quickly. By following the outlined steps, meeting the requirements, and seeking professional advice when needed, you can confidently establish your business and embark on your entrepreneurial journey in the Badger State.
If you are a resident of Wisconsin, then you can file your LLC by yourself. However, it is always worth having a professional than doing it yourself to handle legal complexities, paperwork, and other documentation.
Apart from the formation fee of $130 (domestic LLC) and $100 (foreign LLC), LLC costs in Wisconsin include $25 for Annual Reports every year. LLCs are liable to pay sales tax of 5% every year.
It takes no time (immediately) to get a Wisconsin LLC if you file it online. For the mail filing, it takes 5 business days to get an LLC. If you hire a professional LLC service, then it might take less than that. We recommend TailorBrands, which has an impeccable turnaround time.
Every year all the LLCs have to submit an Annual Report and pay $25 to the Wisconsin Secretary of State and renew the LLC. It is mandatory to renew your LLC every year.
Generally, for LLCs, it is a default tax structure. Once you obtain the EIN, you will get the various tax structure options to select. Sometimes LLCs choose S Corp to reduce federal tax burdens. Read more on the Wisconsin Classification of LLC Tax.
LLCs are easier to establish than other business structures. Small businesses, especially start-ups, can easily start an LLC in the state of Wisconsin at a bare minimum cost. LLCs have a ‘pass-through taxation’ advantage for which they are excluded from certain taxes. The formation of limited liability companies requires much lesser documents and legal processes. Share your queries with us, and leave a comment below.