Start a Business in Washington

Whether you are following the EverEmployed program or going it on your own, many entrepreneurs choose to operate as an S-corp for a number of reasons. While we can’t offer legal advice, here are general instructions and resources on setting up an S-corp in Washington. If you are still unsure as to what an S-Corp is, please refer to our article, “What is an S-Corp?

Choose a Corporate Name

One of the first choices you will make when starting a business in Washington will be what to name the company. The name must contain one of the following business designators (or an abbreviated version): Incorporated (Inc.), Corporation (Corp.), Company (Co.), or Limited (Ltd); and must be less than 120 characters.

You may verify the availability of your chosen name on the Secretary of State website. If you have chosen a name that is available, but are not ready yet to file the paperwork to become a legal entity, you may chose to file a Name Reservation form. This form is also filed with the Secretary of State, and reserves your chosen name for 180 days.


Legal Paperwork

In order to be legally recognized as a corporation in the state of Washington, you must file an Articles of Incorporation form. This form can be filed either online or by mail, and lists the name of the corporation, the number of shares authorized and the class of shares, the effective date of the corporation, the name and address of each incorporator, the name and address of a registered agent, and tenure of the corporation.

A registered agent must accept your designation and sign the articles. This agent can either be an individual or entity in the state of Washington, and is willing to accept legal papers on your behalf.

Each corporation doing business in the state must also file an annual report. You will receive a renewal notice from the Secretary of State approximately 45 days prior to it being due. The report can be filed online or by mail.


Don’t Forget the IRS

IF for tax purposes you are electing S-Corp status, you must file Form 2553: Election by a Small Business Corporation signed by all the shareholders within two months and 15 days of the start of the first tax year.

You will also want to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS website. this form is free to file, and is used for filing taxes. The website will ask you to answer a few simple questions, and a EIN will be automatically issued.


Licenses and Final Steps

 Once your S-corp is set up, remember to get a business license in the city you are operating.  Most cities pull data from newly-registered businesses in the state so they can track down who in their city should have a license.  While you can wait for your city to come knocking if you are on a tight budget (and many will simply give you a deadline to get a license), some municipalities may not be so friendly about it.
Please continue on to our “What Do I Do Next?” article for more guidance on where to go from here.
If you have helpful information or insights to add about starting a business in Washington, feel free to comment below.
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