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How to Start an LLC in Wisconsin

To start an LLC in Wisconsin, you must file Articles of Organization with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, pay a $130 filing fee, and get an EIN from the IRS. The complete steps to forming a Wisconsin LLC are as follows:

  1. File Wisconsin LLC Articles of Organization
  2. Pay the Department of Financial Institutions $130 ($170 for paper filings)
  3. Wait to receive your approved Articles
  4. Get a Federal EIN tax ID for the LLC
  5. Create a Wisconsin LLC Operating Agreement
  6. Take these documents to the bank and get a Wisconsin LLC bank account
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Wisconsin LLC Articles of Organization free download. When you're done filling out the form, submit it to your state.

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Our free account and tools will walk you through starting and maintaining a Wisconsin LLC. All for free.

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Documents & Forms

How to File Wisconsin LLC Articles of Organization

To form a Wisconsin LLC, you file the LLC Articles of Organization in the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new LLC
Step 2 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 3 Choose whether your LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed
Step 4 Decide when you’d like your business to start
Step 5 File online and pay $130 with a credit card (fastest) or mail to the State of WI—Dept of Financial Institutions, PO Box 93348, Milwaukee WI 53293-0348 with a check for $170

How Long Does it Take to Start a Wisconsin LLC?

1

Fastest and Simplest 1 day

File yourself online. While the Department of Financial Institutions notes that online filing can take up to 5 days, they are typically processed much, much faster.

1

Almost Fastest and some might say better 1 day

Hire Northwest to file your Articles of Organization online for you. Just answer a few brief questions about your business, sit back, and let our Corporate Guides file everything right the first time.

2

Not Too Shabby 2 days

For an extra $25 you can get 2-day expediting. (Kinda worthless for online filings but useful if you file by mail).

4-7

Archaic 4-7 days

Mailed filings are not only slower—they cost $40 more than filing online. So unless you have to pay by check or money order, there’s really no reason to mail your Articles of Organization and wait for someone to enter all your data in by hand.

What is the Cost of a Wisconsin LLC?

If you file online, the state filing fee is $130. If you use a paper form, the state ups the fee to a hefty $170. Need it expedited? Add on $25.

Hire Northwest and your total, out-the-door cost is $355, including state fees.

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How much does an LLC in Wisconsin cost each year?

There’s a $25 fee to submit the mandatory Wisconsin LLC Annual Report.

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What are the Wisconsin LLC taxes?

The Wisconsin personal net income tax rates are:

4.00%: $0 to $11,229
5.84%: $11,230 to $22,469
6.27%: $22,470 to $247,349
7.65%: $247,350 +

If your LLC is taxed as an S corporation AND has at least $4 million in gross receipts, you’re also subject to Wisconsin’s Economic Development Surcharge (essentially a net income tax of .2%). There’s a minimum surcharge of $25 and a maximum of $9,800.

The state sales tax is 5%. There’s no city sales tax, but counties and specialty rates can increase the total, making the average total sales tax in Wisconsin 5.439%.

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Is a Wisconsin LLC Registered Agent Required?

Yep, your LLC must appoint and maintain a Wisconsin registered agent. You don’t necessarily have to hire someone—you could always appoint yourself. Being your own registered agent, however, has some drawbacks. The core of the job is being available during business hours to accept legal notices. Taking vacations, attending meetings or traveling for business suddenly becomes a whole lot harder when you’re tied to your desk. You’ll also have to publicly list the address where you’ll be in your formation and maintenance documents (like your Articles and Annual Reports). If you list your personal address or office on these forms, you could end up with a mailbox full of junk and strangers knocking at your door.

Let them knock on ours instead. At Northwest Registered Agent, we’re happy to sort through your spam—we’ll also scan and send any legal notices the same day.

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Wisconsin LLC Versus Wisconsin Corporation:

Forming a Wisconsin corporation is a bit cheaper than forming a Wisconsin LLC. For corporations, the filing fee is only $100 versus the minimum of $130 for LLCs. Beyond that however, costs are similar for maintaining both entities. Both corporations and LLCs pay $25 for their Annual Report. Taxes can be similar as well. Any state taxes you pay will depend more on your entity’s tax election than anything else. Both LLCs and corporations have choices when it comes to tax elections—for example, an LLC can choose to be taxed as an S or even a C corporation.

LLCs and corporations operate a bit differently too. Small businesses and new business owners often go with LLCs because they’re easier to manage. While corporations have specific formal requirements like appointing directors and officers or holding annual meetings, LLCs have more freedom to run things how they like. They aren’t even required to have any higher-level management at all—members can manage the LLC themselves. Corporations may not be as flexible, but they’re common choices for large businesses (or those hoping to scale fast). Thinking about a Badger State corporation? Here’s information about Wisconsin incorporation.

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Do I Need a Tax ID Number (EIN) for a Wisconsin LLC?

You’ll most likely need an EIN (or at least want one). Your Wisconsin LLC is absolutely required to have an EIN if you have employees, are taxed as a corporation, or file certain federal excise returns. When you go to open a business bank account or start registering and applying for permits, licenses and taxes, you’ll find yourself being asked for your EIN over and over again. In many cases, you can fork over your personal social security number instead—but the more you hand that out, the more you risk compromising your personal information. Basically, you might as well get an EIN, even if you don’t need one right away. They’re free from the IRS. Want to skip this extra application? Hire Northwest to get your EIN for you when you sign up for our services.

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Does a Wisconsin LLC Need a Business License?

While Wisconsin doesn’t have a general, statewide business license, there’s a pretty unusual registration fee that many businesses will have to pay for (and renew every two years): the Department of Revenue registration fee. If you’re required to register with the DOR (for example, if you need to get a seller’s permit or have to withhold income tax from employees), you’ll have to shell out $20 for an initial registration. Your registration must be renewed every two years, and the renewal fee is $10.

On the local level, cities and counties may have their own licensing requirements, most commonly for specific business activities like selling alcohol or dealing secondhand goods.

What is a Wisconsin LLC Annual Report?

Your Wisconsin LLC Annual Report is a form you file each year to make sure the state has your most up-to-date ownership and contact information. The report and $25 filing fee are due at the end of your “anniversary quarter” (for example, if you originally registered your LLC in the first 3 months of the year, it’s due March 31st). If the hard-to-remember date isn’t bad enough, forgetting to file puts your Wisconsin LLC into delinquent status. On the plus side, when you sign up for services with Northwest, we’ll help you remember your reports. We send our clients reminder notifications for key filings to ensure they stay compliant. Wish you didn’t have to worry about this annoying filing at all? Hire Northwest to file your Annual Report for you each year.

Does a Wisconsin LLC Need an Operating Agreement?

You don’t have to file your operating agreement with any state agency, so technically there’s no legal requirement to have one—but there’s no legal requirement to wear a coat when it’s 20 below either. It’s just a really, really good idea.

Your operating agreement is the most important internal document of your LLC. It’s where you spell out all of your most critical information—like who actually owns the business. How much each person invested. How profits and losses will be allocated. What happens if members don’t agree. What happens if you call it a day on the whole business. Even though they’re internal documents, operating agreements are useful for those outside your business as well. They provide a snapshot of how your business is structured and how it operates. Your bank will ask to see it when you go to open a bank account. Lenders, investors and partners will want to see it as well. Anyone with $130 can start a Wisconsin LLC, so your operating agreement helps prove you’re a legitimate, serious business.

At Northwest, we know that operating agreements are critical. That’s why as part of our formation service package, we include a free operating agreement, specific to your LLC’s management style. We believe in the power of well-written business documents so much that we hand out loads of other important (and free) LLC forms too: resolutions, membership certificates, bill of sale templates and more. We have everything your Wisconsin LLC needs, and we’ve spent years revising and improving our forms to make them better and better. Over a million LLCs have used our free forms to help start and maintain their business. Take a look:

 

 

Wisconsin LLC Articles of Organization Requirements:

Company Name

You must include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation. Most businesses keep it simple with “LLC.”

Registered Agent

You can list an individual (such as yourself) or a business (such as Northwest). Naturally, we’re fans of Northwest.

Registered Office

This Wisconsin street address will become part of the permanent record of your LLC. When you hire Northwest, our address will go here.

LLC Management

Your Wisconsin LLC can be managed by members or managers. In a member-managed LLC, members make all the decisions. Don’t plan to run the day-to-day operations? You can turn those powers over to one or more managers (but you won’t have input anymore). Tip: Most LLCs are member-managed.

Wisconsin LLC Organizer

It may sound like a fancy title, but your organizer is just the person who signs and submits your Articles of Organization. Organizers have to include their name and address, but they don’t have to be anyone in your LLC. We’ll be your organizer when you hire Northwest.

Document Drafter

Whoever actually filled out the form has to include their name as well. Typically, this person is the same as the organizer. (So we’ll be your drafter when you hire Northwest.)

Effective Date

Want your business to start right away? Skip this optional section. If you want a specific start within 90 days (maybe you want to line up your start with the beginning of a tax period), you can include a future effective date.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®