Form a Limited Liability Company in Wisconsin
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How to Form a Wisconsin LLC in 10 Steps
You can form a Limited Liability Company or LLC in Wisconsin in 10 simple steps. This is a common business structure that many businesses opt for. It allows one or more people to own a portion of the company while profits can be earned by the LLC and passed through to individual members.
Keep in mind that a corporation requires that a separate tax return be filed, but an LLC will not file a separate tax return. LLCs do, however, reduce liability for activities that the company commits.
Forming a Limited Liability Company is a straightforward process, but there are several steps you'll want to follow.
1. Choose Your Company Name.
Your first step in creating an LLC is to choose a name for your LLC. This step is important to ensure that your business has the right to use this name, so you’ll need to search Wisconsin databases to make sure that your preferred name is not already taken.
If you prefer because of time restraints or otherwise, for an affordable fee, SunDoc can run your name search for you. On the other hand, you can read our SunDoc article entitled Is My Business Name Available? to learn how you can conduct your own name search in Wisconsin. It is also a smart idea to check for a registered trademark on your chosen name by using the USPTO website.
2. Understand the LLC Organizer Requirement.
In #6 of this guide, you’ll learn about forming what’s called your Articles of Organization for your Wisconsin LLC. This is a one-page form. On the form, you need to name an LLC organizer.
An organizer is the person or company that drafts your LLC. By preparing on-line with us, SunDoc Filings will be your organizer. If you choose to prepare and upload your filing with SunDoc, you can name your own organizer.
3. Designate a Registered Agent.
Next, choose someone to be your registered agent. This entity can be a firm or a person. You’ll need to put this name on your Articles of Organization just as with the organizer. Want more information about this step? See why the registered agent is important by reading here: Registered Agent Service.
4. Decide Your Ownership and Management Structure.
The Articles of Organization form asks whether your Wisconsin LLC will be managed by one manager, multiple managers, or all the members. You must decide whether you want to be a member-managed or a manager-managed LLC. To help you decide, we have created guides for each method: the Member-Managed LLC or the Manager-Managed LLC.
5. Create an Operating Agreement.
An Operating Agreement is another essential document in the formation of your LLC. Basically, the Operating Agreement is akin to the engine that runs your company.
It’s important to note that the State of Wisconsin does not require a Limited Liability Company to have an Operating Agreement. Instead, an implied Operating Agreement is formed according to the legal default conditions in Wisconsin State. Still, you should figure out if these default conditions are in your best interest.
At stake with the Operating Agreement are things like money and fiduciary constraints, managing working capital, voting, governance, paying profits, and liability. You might want to speak with an attorney to learn more about the document altogether. Our guides, Member-Managed LLC and Manager-Managed LLC will also be great sources of information on the Operating Agreement. You can see an attorney-created Operating Agreement sample by downloading this Free Wisconsin LLC Operating Agreement as well.
Also remember that you need to create an Operating Agreement if your company is going to be manager-managed. This is for your company records. Currently, the law in Wisconsin states that LLCs will only be valid if you declare manager-managed status in two documents: Your Operating Agreement and your Articles of Incorporation.
6. File the Articles of Organization.
You will need to file a simple one-page form called the Articles of Organization for your LLC formation as well. This provides essential company details. When the Secretary of State of Wisconsin accepts your Articles of Organization, this is the moment at which your company is officially created.
You will require several things before you can file your Articles of Organization. You will first need the name of your LLC. You will next need the address of your new company. You will need to know what management method you’ve chosen, who your registered agent is, and who your LLC organizer is. Wisconsin state law does not require that you publish anything in a newspaper of record.
SunDoc can file your Articles of Organization for you if you like. We can do this in 3 to 5 days or provide rush service. We are always reliable and always on time.
7. Obtain an EIN and Open a Business Bank Account.
Great! At this stage, you have a registered LLC in the State of Wisconsin. Whether you have employees in your business or not, if you have more than one member and are an LLC, you will now have to file for an EIN.
An EIN is short for Employer Identification Number. To obtain this number, file with the IRS yourself. On the other hand, if you are short on time or have other restraints, remember that SunDoc can file for you.
EINs are essential for running your business. You will need to have one at most banks, for example. They are required when you want to open a designated business account — an important step at this point in the process.
Up until now, if you have been paying for business expenses with your personal accounts, you should have been saving receipts so that you can be reimbursed by your business accounts. Getting your fiscal management in order with a business account, hiring an attorney for consultation, and completing other banking and money needs is a wise choice at this stage.
8. Pay Wisconsin State Taxes.
Each year your LLC must pay a minimum annual tax to Wisconsin's Franchise Tax Board, including in your first year of operation. This is not an income tax, but rather a cost to do business in Wisconsin. Also, if you sell goods in Wisconsin, you are required to collect sales tax. You can find more state tax information on the State of Wisconsin’s tax web site.
9. Determine Necessary Licenses and Permits.
In order for your Wisconsin LLC to operate on the city and county level, you need to have the proper business licenses or permits. You may assume that your business is exempt, but it’s important to check this resource closely. You’d be surprised at what is required at the county and city level. If you do not operate your business with the proper licenses and permits, you’ll be liable for expensive fines to the state.
10. File an Annual Report.
You are required to file an Annual Report after you form your LLC. Its use is to keep the state of Wisconsin up to date on important information about your business. All LLCs are required to file their annual report with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
If you prefer, SunDoc can file your Annual Report and other routine filings on your behalf, reliably and on time. All Limited Liability Company forms (including the SI form), can be located on the Wisconsin Secretary of State web site.
Important: It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss your potential insurance needs, or matters relating to employees. You should consult an attorney or accountant with any questions about legal or financial matters. Please note that nothing in this article can be construed as legal, tax or accounting advice.
For additional learning, please visit Wisconsin LLC FAQs.
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