Many Wisconsin entrepreneurs choose to form a limited liability company (LLC) because of the many benefits of this business entity type. An LLC provides liability protection, for instance, so your assets are not at risk if your business is sued or cannot pay debts.
An LLC is a “pass-through entity” for tax purposes, meaning that the LLC itself is not taxed. Instead, income passes through the business to the LLC owners or members, who report it on their tax returns. LLCs also offer flexibility in terms of management and taxation.
Creating an LLC is relatively straightforward, but ensuring it’s done correctly is crucial to getting your Wisconsin business on the right foot. The most critical step is filing articles of organization.
What Are Articles of Organization for an LLC?
The articles of organization is a legal document filed with the Department of Financial Institutions to form an LLC officially. It will include your business name, address, registered agent information, and more, as detailed below.
First, Select a Registered Agent for Your State LLC
Wisconsin requires LLCs to appoint a registered agent, a person or company authorized to accept and respond to official business correspondence, such as legal, tax, or financial documents.
The registered agent ensures all required notices and documents are received. In Wisconsin, the registered agent can be an LLC member, individual, or entity that meets state requirements. In Wisconsin, a registered agent must:
- Be 18 years or older
- Have a physical address in the state
- Be available during regular business hours
- Be registered to operate in the state, if it’s a business
Many business owners hire a registered agent service to ensure their LLC stays fully compliant and for convenience.
If you choose to be your registered agent, you must be at your registered agent’s address for all business hours. A registered agent service allows you to be wherever you need to be to run and grow your business.
How to Submit Articles of Organization in Wisconsin
To start, visit the Department of Financial Institution’s website to access the articles of organization online.
In Wisconsin, the articles of organization require the following information:
- LLC name
- Registered agent information
- Member and manager information
- Organizer contact information
At the bottom of the website’s homepage, click the button that says “click here to start filing.” The next screen will prompt you to do a name availability search to confirm your desired business name is available. If so, you’ll fill out your business name in the box.
The next screen prompts you to enter your registered agent information. Once entered, click to the next page and select whether your LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed.
On the following screen, enter the organizer’s name and address, followed by the drafter’s name, who may be the same individual as the organizer.
The last step is to fill out the contact information for your LLC. Review all your information to ensure it’s accurate, then confirm to move to the payment screen.
You can also complete and submit a paper form if you wish to file by mail.
The fee is $170 for paper and $130 for online filings, and your LLC should be approved and formed within seven business days.
Some entrepreneurs hire an LLC formation service like ZenBusiness to handle this step, saving time and ensuring the process is done correctly.
Draft an Operating Agreement
Wisconsin does not require an operating agreement, but it’s a crucial document that defines members’ ownership percentages and profit allocations. Those are the two key elements, but it should also include the following:
- Each member’s rights and responsibilities
- Management structure and roles
- Voting rights of each member
- Rules for meetings and voting
- What happens when a member sells their interest, becomes disabled, or dies
You can find operating agreement templates online, but it’s best to have them drawn up or reviewed by an attorney. The language of an operating agreement is crucial and can often help determine how member disputes will be resolved. Here you can obtain a free operating agreement template for your Wisconsin LLC.
Contact Information for the Department of Financial Institutions
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions Website
Phone: (608) 261-9555
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
4822 Madison Yards Way, North Tower
Madison, WI 53705
There’s only one way to create an LLC in Wisconsin: successfully filing articles of organization. If you make any mistakes, you’ll likely have to refile, so be sure to do it right the first time and set your business up for serious success!