A limited liability company, or LLC, is a “hybrid” form of business association that combines the flexibility, pass-through taxation and limited filing requirements of a partnership with the limited liability of a corporation. Starting a Wisconsin LLC involves filing a document, called an Articles of Organization, with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. To make the process easier on a person looking to start a new business, the Department of Financial Institutions allows an individual to file online, which is both faster and cheaper than filing by mail.
Choose a name for your Wisconsin company. Under Wisconsin law, the name of a Wisconsin LLC must contain either the words “limited liability company” or “limited liability co.” or end with the abbreviation “L.L.C.” or “LLC.” The name of your Wisconsin company must also not be identical to or easily confused with a business name reserved or registered with the Department of Financial Institutions. To assist new businesses in selecting a name, the Department of Financial Institutions maintains an online database of all business names registered or reserved in Wisconsin.
Choose a registered agent and registered office. Wisconsin law requires all registered businesses to maintain a registered agent. A registered agent is the person or business that receives service of process if your business is ever sued or subpoenaed. A registered office is the street address of the registered agent, which must remain open and have persons present during normal business hours to receive service of process. If you are a Wisconsin resident who maintains a street address within the state, you may serve as the registered agent and registered office of your company. If you are not a Wisconsin resident, or do not wish to associate your name and address with your company in a public record, you may hire a registered agent service, which is a business that will serve as the registered agent and registered office for your company.
Choose a method of filing. The Department of Financial Institutions allows registration of an LLC either online or by mail. Filing online through its QuickStart LLC service is cheaper and has a shorter processing time. If you choose to file by mail, you must download and use the Department of Financial Institutions’ Articles of Organization form.
Fill out your Articles of Organization. Provide the name of your company. Do not alter Article 2. Provide the name of your registered agent and the address of your registered office. Indicate whether the day-to-day management of your company vests in managers -- persons without an ownership stake in the company -- or members -- persons with an ownership stake. Provide your name and street address as an organizer of the company. You have the option of indicating a second choice for your company name. Sign and date the Articles of Organization.
File and pay the filing fee. If filing via the QuickStart LLC service, follow the on-screen directions to submit your Articles of Organization and pay. If filing via the QuickStart LLC service, you must pay with a credit card. As of 2010, the filing fee when using the QuickStart LLC service is $130. If filing by mail, the filing fee is $170. The mailing address for filing is Department of Financial Institutions, P.O. Box 7846, Madison WI 53707-7846. If filing by mail, you must pay by check or money order made payable to Department of Financial Institutions.
Consult with a tax attorney about the tax implications of operating a business as a Wisconsin LLC.
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