Wisconsin Incorporation Services
To start a corporation in Wisconsin, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. You can file the document online or by mail. The Articles of Incorporation cost $100 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Wisconsin corporation. However, to actually ready the corporation to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Starting a Wisconsin Corporation Guide:
Wisconsin Corporation Filing Options
Skip the state fees! Get a Wisconsin corporation and the best of our services today. Includes EIN, hassle-free maintenance, business address & mail forwarding, Privacy by Default®, local Corporate Guide® service, and everything you need to operate at full capacity.
Do It Yourself
Sign up for a free account and use our online tools to start your Wisconsin corporation today. Includes Wisconsin incorporation and maintenance walkthrough and company document creation. All for free.
Pay in Full
Includes Wisconsin corporation, business address & free mail forwarding, Privacy by Default®, lifetime support from local Corporate Guides® and a year of registered agent service.
Wisconsin Articles of Incorporation Requirements
To form a Wisconsin corporation, you must complete and file the Articles of Incorporation with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.
Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited,” or an abbreviation for one of these words. Tip: Most businesses keep it short and sweet with “Corp” or “Inc.”
How many shares would you like to create? You must authorize at least one share. You can distribute some or all of these shares later on at your organizational meeting.
List either an individual Wisconsin resident (like yourself) or a business (like Northwest). Tip: Personally, we’re fans of Northwest.
This address must be in Wisconsin and can’t be a PO Box. Your registered address is where your agent will be available to accept legal notices. Tip: Our address will go here when you hire Northwest.
Have other provisions you’d like to add? For instance, if you want your corporation to begin on a specific date in the future or if you want to grant preemptive rights to shareholders, you could include those provisions here. This section is optional.
Your incorporator signs your Articles of Incorporation. Your incorporator can be a director, officer, or another person you authorize to submit your Articles. You must have at least one incorporator, and all incorporators must include their names and addresses. Tip: We’ll be your incorporator when you hire Northwest to form your Wisconsin corporation.
List the name of the person who actually prepared your Articles of Incorporation. Typically, this person is the same as the organizer. (So we’ll be your drafter when you hire Northwest.)
This information will go on the filed copy of your Articles of Incorporation. Tip: When you hire Northwest, you can list our address here.
How much does it cost to start a Wisconsin corporation?
$100. This is the state filing fee to submit Wisconsin Articles of Incorporation. Need it expedited? Add $25.
Hire Northwest to form your Wisconsin corporation, and your total out-the-door cost is $325. This includes state fees, a full year of registered agent service, and loads of forms and resources to help you get your new business up and running.
How long does it take to start a Wisconsin corporation?
Online filings are processed fast, within a day. Mailed filings take 4-7 days. 2-day expediting is available for $25 (kinda worthless for online filings but useful if you file by mail).
If you hire Northwest to start your corporation, we file online and typically have your Wisconsin corporation formed within 24 hours.
Does a Wisconsin corporation need a registered agent?
Absolutely. Corporations are required to appoint and maintain a Wisconsin registered agent. While it’s possible to take on this job yourself, many people find it’s more headache than it’s worth. For starters, agents have to list their name and the address where they’ll be in the Articles of Incorporation—a public document, available to any data-seller, competitor, or general busybody with the inclination to look up your business. Also, being a registered agent means being regularly available at your registered address in case a process server pops by. And really, wouldn’t you rather be curling up in a cabin on Lake Michigan? Or attending all 11 days of Summerfest for once?
That’s why many businesses opt to hire a commercial registered agent service instead—like Northwest. At Northwest, our information goes on your Articles of Incorporation, and we’re ready and waiting to scan and send you any legal notifications the same day. Instead of being tied to the office, you can stay on top of your business wherever you choose to be.
Create Bylaws for Your Wisconsin Corporation
Do I need bylaws?
Yes, creating and adopting bylaws are important steps for organizing your Wisconsin corporation.
Why are corporate bylaws important?
Bylaws are the internal policies and procedures for your corporation. Your bylaws spell out how decisions in your corporation are made and who gets to make those decisions. For instance, they state who is on the board of directors, how long they’ll stay, how they’ll be replaced, and how many members are needed to pass a resolution. Your bylaws note who your officers are and what they’re responsible for. Your bylaws list rights and restrictions for any classes or series of shares, including voting rights. Essentially, your bylaws determine how your corporation actually runs—and who runs it. As a result, you’ll need your bylaws for everything from opening a corporate bank account to taking on a new business partner.
Do I have to write bylaws?
Not from scratch. When you hire Northwest to form your Wisconsin corporation, we give you free corporate bylaws to help you get started. We also give you loads of other free forms and templates for everything from resolutions to meeting minutes. We’ve spent years refining and improving our docs to ensure your corporation has exactly what you need. Check out the free corporate forms we provide to help corporations form and maintain their businesses.
Get an EIN for Your Wisconsin Corporation
Do I have to get a tax ID number (EIN)?
Yes, your Wisconsin corporation will need an EIN. The IRS requires this ID number for federal tax filings. You’ll most likely need your EIN for other common paperwork as well, such as filing local taxes, applying for licenses or permits, and opening a corporate bank account.
To get an EIN, you can fill out the IRS’s application for no cost. Or, avoid yet another form and hire us to get your EIN for you—just add on EIN service during checkout when you sign up for our Wisconsin incorporation services.
Open a Bank Account for Your Wisconsin Corporation
To open a corporate bank account, you will need to bring the following to the bank:
- A copy of the Wisconsin corporation’s Articles of Incorporation
- The Wisconsin corporation’s bylaws
- The Wisconsin corporation’s EIN
If your bylaws don’t specifically assign the power to open a bank account, you may also want to bring a corporate resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the business to open the account in the name of the corporation.
We recommend calling your bank ahead of time before going in and asking what their requirements are. Most banks don’t open corporate accounts nearly as frequently as personal accounts, so some bankers may be unfamiliar with their own bank’s requirements. As frustrating as that may be for you, calling ahead will help save you from being super annoyed when you walk into the bank.
Obtain a Business License
Does a Wisconsin corporation need a business license?
The state itself doesn’t have a general business license, but local areas may have their own licensing requirements, typically for specific business activities. For instance, the City of Kenosha requires licenses for a variety of activities, from selling Christmas trees to operating a pet store.
Do I have to register with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue?
Most likely. For instance, if you have employees or need a seller’s permit, you’ll have to register with the Department of Revenue. Many businesses are surprised to find that there are registration and renewal fees. The initial registration fee is $20. Your registration has to be renewed every two years, and the renewal fee is $10.
File Wisconsin Corporation Reports
What is a Wisconsin Annual Report?
Your Wisconsin Annual Report is a form you’re required to file every year to ensure the state has your most current contact and ownership information. Wisconsin has a strong preference for online submissions—which is why the report is $25 if you file online and $40 if you use a paper form. The filing can have one of four due dates: March 31st, June 30th, September 30th or December 31st, depending on which quarter of the year you first registered your business (for instance, if you registered in the first 3 months of the year, your report is due March 31st).
These odd due dates can be tough to remember, but Northwest can help. As your registered agent, we’ll send you reminder notices to help you stay in compliance. Better yet, you can hire to us to file this annoying report for you and spend your time focusing on more important things.
How much does a corporation in Wisconsin cost each year?
At least $25 a year for the mandatory Wisconsin Annual Report.
Pay Corporate Taxes
What are the taxes for a Wisconsin corporation?
Wisconsin has a corporate franchise tax on net income. The rate is a flat 7.9%. Have over $4 million in gross receipts? Your corporation will also be subject to the state’s economic development surcharge. The surcharge is 3% of gross tax liability. There’s a minimum surcharge of $25 and a maximum of $9,800.
The state sales tax is 5%. County and specialty rates can tack on up to 0.6% more, so total sales tax rates vary between 5% (like in Appleton and Oshkosh) and 5.6% (like in Milwaukee and Allenton).