Starting a business in West Virginia starts with forming a company, if the owner doesn’t want the liability that a sole proprietorship often has.  A common and popular type of company is a Limited Liability Company or LLC. Creating an LLC can provide limited legal protection while giving the owners or members the tax flexibility that a sole proprietorship has. A potential business owner can create a Limited Liability Company in West Virginia by following the steps below.

GETTING STARTED

Naming the LLC

  • Before creating an LLC, there are steps that must be taken to ensure the company is an entity unto itself.  The prospective owner should register the company’s name as well as select a registered/ statutory agent. The prospective owner then needs to file the Articles of Organization.
  • Naming the LLC in West Virginia requires the prospective business owner to decide on a name. This name should be one that is not already in use in West Virginia. The prospective business owner cannot choose the name of a federal agency, such as the FBI, nor can it choose the name of a state agency, such as the Secretary of State. Choose a name that has an open domain name so that it can be registered to the company.

Naming Guidelines in West Virginia

  • The prospective owner must choose an original name that is not taken by another company doing business within the state. The name must include the words “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.”  Some words are restricted such as “Bank” and “MD.”  If the prospective owner chooses a restricted word or words, it will require additional paperwork. As stated above, certain words are prohibited such as those used by the government.

Is the Name for the LLC Available in West Virginia?

  • The prospective LLC owner should search to determine if the name is available in West Virginia.  The prospective owner can search online here.

Is the domain name available?

  • Reserve the business’s domain name now. Many registrars can help search to see if the name has been taken. Choose the name and suffix that fits the LLC, but the most popular suffixes are usually those with a .com ending.

Select a Registered / Statutory Agent

  • A registered agent is the person or entity that handles correspondence from the State of West Virginia to the LLC. The registered agent in West Virginia must be a resident of the State of West Virginia or a corporation authorized to operate there. The registered agent may be the owner or member of the LLC.

Filing Articles of Organization

Create Operating Agreement

  • The prospective owner or member does not have to create an operating agreement to register an LLC in West Virginia.

RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS

Getting Your EIN

  • An EIN is an employee identification number, issued by the Internal Revenue service. Sometimes it is also called a Federal Tax Identification Number. It’s a unique number issued to each business. You’ll need an EIN to open a business bank account; file Federal and State Taxes; and hire employees.
  • Before you get your EIN make sure your new business has been properly formed before applying and be wary of paid sites. EINs are free direct from the IRS.
  • The easiest way is to apply online for an EIN. Note, the IRS website has office hours, and is only available Monday through Friday, 7am to 10pm. Yes, we also agree this is one of the most ridiculous things we’ve ever seen. You can call 1-800-829-4933, between 7am to 7pm of your time zone, Monday to Friday. Snail mail: You can download the form and mail it in.

Keeping Business and Personal Accounts Separate

  • Get a business bank account for your business. This will help you protect your personal assets from potential creditors and lawsuits, and will also make life a lot easier come tax time. 
  • Get a business credit or debit card. This will help you keep your expenses separate and easier to track.

Accounting

  • No matter what business you run, accounting software and processes is a must for any small business. If you have an accountant, ask them which software they work with and recommend.
  • A good accounting system is necessary to track income and expenses, so you can easily see if you’re making money and make filing income taxes so much easier.
  • Always try and find something that will: sync with all of your bank and credit card accounts automatically – not just downloads, but auto sync; auto-match vendors, customers and other accounts; and let you accept credit cards and ACH drafts with ease. This can be applied for online, as can unemployment

Have employees?

  • If there will be employees working for the LLC, the company must first make sure the prospective employee is eligible to work in the United States. Whenever the company hires in someone new, the company must report the employees as “new hires” to the State of West Virginia. The company must also provide workers compensation insurance and must withhold the employees’ income taxes. The company must also print and display compliance posters.

Selling Stuff?

Links to relevant taxes and what to do for West Virginia

  • Businesses must register for employees withholding tax and unemployment insurance tax, if there are employees.  Tax information can be found at:
  • Businesses must also register for applicable federal, state, and local permits.

Insurance

  • All West Virginia businesses need to carry general liability insurance, and if the business has employees, it must register for workers compensation insurance.

KEEPING YOUR LLC COMPLIANT

  • For the LLC to stay in business, it must be in good standing with the State of West Virginia. The business can obtain a Certificate of Good Standing by requesting it online for $10 USD. To maintain good standing in the State of West Virginia, businesses must file an annual report with the West Virginia Secretary of State. Fee is $25 USD. Business owners may file an annual report online. Business owners need to file the annual report by June 30th each year.

FILING A FOREIGN LLC IN WEST VIRGINIA

  • If the business owners of a foreign LLC wish to do business in West Virginia, they can file for a foreign LLC. The cost of filing for a foreign LLC is $150 USD.