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.
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.