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How to Form a Washington LLC in 10 Steps

A Limited Liability Company or LLC is a common business structure that is different from other business structures. First, one or more individuals can own a portion of your business. Second, profits that will be earned by your LLC will be passed through to each individual member. Additionally, an LLC is not required to file a separate tax return, which is what corporation need to do. 

Another important difference about an LLC is that it reduces the exposure to liability that the owners have, which may otherwise be a problem, depending on company activities.

It is a straightforward process to form your Limited Liability Company or LLC. Below are the steps you should follow:

1. Choose Your Company Name.

Choosing your business name will be one of the most important steps that you take. You need a name that no other LLC or business can use. At minimum, no one else should be able to use it in the State of Washington. For a fee, allow SunDoc to run your name search or reserve your name on your behalf. You can also search for a available name on your own. Remember to check for any registered trademarks on your chosen name too.

2. Understand the LLC Organizer Requirement.

It is also required that you put an LLC organizer’s name on your Articles of Organization form.

You can name your own organizer if you prepare and upload the Articles of Organization form on your own. by preparing on-line with us, SunDoc Filings will be your organizer.

3. Designate a Registered Agent.

You will need to have a registered agent in addition to an organizer. Read our article Registered Agent Service to learn why this role is important and how to make the choice. A registered agent is able to be a person or a firm. 

4. Decide Your Ownership and Management Structure.

The Articles of Organization form will ask to know whether your Washington LLC is going to be managed by one manager, multiple managers, or all of the members of your LLC. Basically, you first need to make a decision on whether you would like to be a manager-managed or a member-managed LLC in Washington.

5. Create an Operating Agreement.

An Operating Agreement is another crucial document in the LLC formation process. Generally speaking, the Operating Agreement is like the engine that gets your company started and keeps it moving.

In the State of Washington, you are not required to have an Operating Agreement for your LLC. There are default conditions put in place by law that will be formed as your implied operating agreement. Still, check to make sure these conditions work well for you and your company. 

Your Operating Agreement will deal with many things, such as liability, money, managing working capital, paying out profits, fiduciary constraints, and governance. It’s possibly you’ll want to speak with an attorney to learn more about the document and what it does. SunDoc can help too.

Also remember that currently, the law in Washington states that these LLCs will only be valid if you declare manager-managed status in your Operating Agreement and your Articles of Incorporation. This means that you must create an Operating Agreement if your company is going to be manager-managed. This is for your own company records. 

6. File the Articles of Organization.

The State of Washington requires you to file a one-page form called the Articles of Organization, providing your company details. The acceptance of your Articles of Organization by the Washington Secretary of State is the moment of your company's creation.

In order to file your Articles of Organization, you will need the name and address of your company, your LLC organizer, your registered agent, and your management method. Washington does not require the member names to be filed, nor does it require any publication in a newspaper of record.

SunDoc can file this the Articles of Organization for you if time is an issue or if you'd prefer to have a filing service handle your paperwork. Typical LLC formation takes about 2-3 weeks, but we also provide rush service.

7. Obtain an EIN and Open a Business Bank Account.

Congrats! At this stage, you now have a registered LLC in the State of Washington. But there are still several other steps you’ll need to take. 

First, you need an EIN. Whether you have employees in your business or not, if you have more than one member, you need an EIN, and this means filing for an EIN.

An EIN or Employer Identification Number. To obtain it, you can file with the IRS on your own. On the other hand, if you are short on time or have other restraints, keep in mind that SunDoc can file for you.

EINs are crucial for running your business. You’ll need to have one at most banks for starters. They are generally required when you want to open a business account — an essential step at this point in your LLC formation process.

Up until now, if you have been paying for business expenses with your personal bank accounts, you should make sure you have saved receipts so that you can be reimbursed by your business. Getting your fiscal management in order by opening a business account, hiring an attorney for help with starting your business, and completing other essential steps is wise. 

8. Pay Washington State Taxes.

All LLCs need to pay an annual tax just to operate and run their businesses in the State of Washington. This is not part of your income taxes. The tax has to be paid starting your first year of LLC operation. 

Remember that sales tax also needs to be collected if you plan on selling goods in the State of Washington. Check out the State of Washington’s tax web site for additional information.

9. Determine Necessary Licenses and Permits.

Most Washington companies are required to have one or more business licenses or permits to operate at the city or county level. It’s important to check even if you think your business is exempt. You may be surprised to discover what’s required. Operating without the proper license or permit can result in expensive fines.

10. File an Annual Report.

You must file an Annual Report. The Annual Report is a simple form that keeps the state up to date on your company information. And down the road when you make changes to your company, it will invariably be one of the forms you’ll need to file with the state.

All LLCs doing business in Washington must file an Annual Report every year and pay the appropriate filing fee.

If you prefer, SunDoc can file your Annual Report and other routine filings for you, reliably and on time. All LLC forms, including the SI form, can be found on the Washington Secretary of State web site.

Important Notice: This article cannot be construed as accounting, tax, or legal advice. There are several aspects of LLC formation and business that are beyond the scope of the article. These things include matters that relate to your employees and insurance needs you may have as a business. Always speak with a licensed accountant or attorney when you have financial or legal questions. 

For additional learning, please visit Washington LLC FAQs.

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Kylene, Tressa & Sheila ROCK !!! We sent a name reservation last week and within 10 minutes the name reservation was completed. The next day we sent in a rush order and within 24 hours the entity was created !! Wow !! Thank You & you gals ROCK !!

Marc Vigil - Enrolled Agent - CEO - Budget Bookkeeping & Income Tax Services
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