No matter where someone lives, starting up a business requires time and effort. In the state of Wisconsin, there are also specific rules and regulations that business owners have to follow. Like most states, Wisconsin makes it relatively easy to set up and operate an LLC, as long as owners follow the necessary and required guidelines and laws. Doing that can mean a successful start to an LLC and a better chance at a long-term future.

GETTING STARTED

Naming the LLC

  • To name an LLC in the state of Wisconsin, specific language is required. The name must contain either L.L.C., LLC, or Limited Liability Company. It also has to avoid restricted words, although these can sometimes be included with the filing of additional paperwork. Prohibited words are any that are already being used by a federal or state agency, and those cannot be used in the name of an LLC at all. To see if a name is available or is already in use by another company, the owner of an LLC can search online and see what their options are.

Select a Registered/ Statutory Agent

  • A registered or statutory agent is one that is allowed to accept official correspondence for the business, and only a resident of the state or a corporation authorized to do business in that state can qualify. That is done because someone must always be available to receive anything official, and someone living out of state will not have that same level of availability. A registered agent is generally not a legal requirement, but an LLC that does not name one can lose out on good standing with the state and may miss important documentation that can affect the business.

Filing Articles of Organization

  • The Articles of Organization for an LLC can be filed online or by a paper copy. The fee for filing online is $130, while the fee for filing on paper is $170. Both are acceptable means of filing, however, so an LLC can choose which option it prefers.

Create Operating Agreement

  • Wisconsin does not require an operating agreement for an LLC. Like most states, this regulation has either been done away with or has never been part of the path to operating an LLC in the state. While the LLC can certainly have an operating agreement if desired, proof of that agreement will not be needed by the state of Wisconsin.

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

Setting Up for Taxes in Wisconsin

  • To have employees, open a bank account, and pay taxes, an LLC needs an EIN, and it is recommended that they also use accounting software. While that software is not a requirement, it is still a good idea to make sure there are as few mistakes made in a financial sense as possible.

Unemployment

Income Tax

  • Wisconsin requires LLCs in the state to set up for employee withholding tax, to ensure the proper funds are being withheld from the employees’ checks and sent to the state.

Sales Tax

  • Any LLC that is selling goods or services that Wisconsin considers taxable must register for sales tax, too, and businesses should be mindful of any needed federal, state, or city permits.

Getting Insurance for your LLC

  • Workers’ compensation insurance is required for an LLC is Wisconsin. However, many companies choose to have insurance that goes above and beyond this, simply because it reduces their risk if there should ever be a problem with the company. Whether to purchase insurance over and above state requirements is a choice that will need to be made by each individual LLC.

KEEPING YOUR LLC COMPLIANT

  • To stay in compliance with Wisconsin law, an LLC must be sure that any employees hired are reported to the state as new hires, and that they are allowed to legally work in the US. Additionally, companies must provide workers’ compensation insurance, withhold income tax, print compliance posters, and provide increments to employees. But there is more to the issue of remaining in compliance with an LLC. An annual report must also be filed with the Secretary of State. This can be filed online, and the fee is $25. It is due every year on the last day of the quarter in which the LLC was formed. A Certificate of Good Standing is also available through filing online or requesting form SP-48 to fill out.

FILING A FOREIGN LLC IN WISCONSIN

  • Foreign LLCs are allowed in Wisconsin. They can be filed for online, and the fee is $120. As with any foreign entity filing, there are rules and requirements that must be addressed and followed for the filing to be approved and the LLC to do business legally in the state.

ABOUT HOW TO START AN LLC

I'm an entrepreneur myself. When talking to others who want to start their own business, they often get wrapped up in the nitty gritty of paperwork and forming the company. They forget that what really matters is customers, sales, and profit. That's why I created How to Start an LLC.org: a simple resource and guide so you can spend less time on forming your company, and more time on building it.

My lawyers want me to remind you that I'm not a lawyer and that I'm completely unqualified to offer legal advice. This site is meant to serve as a reference for you on your journey. If you have questions or concerns, please contact a qualified lawyer (or accountant) to help you. Also, as a general rule, never take random legal advice on the internet.