Start a Business in Wisconsin

General Resources on How to Start a Business in Wisconsin

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 Wisconsin. If you are still unsure as to what an S-Corp is, please refer to our article, “What is an S-Corp?

Name Choice

Choosing the name of a company may not be as easy as it seems. The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions strictly regulates the names of new corporations. The name must contain one of the following business designators or an abbreviated version of them: Corporation (Corp.), Incorporated (Inc.), Company (Co.), or Limited (Ltd.).

The name chosen must be noticeably different from any other entity name already registered. Name availability may be checked against the departments business name database. You may also chose to reserve the name by filing a Name Reservation Application form with the department.

Preparing Paperwork

Once you have determined the availability of your corporation name, you are ready to file the Articles of Incorporation. The articles can be filed online with the Department of Financial Institutions and will detail the name and address of the corporation, the number of shares the corporation is authorized to issue and the name and address of a registered agent. the filing fee for the articles is $100.

Each corporation must also file an annual report due by March 31. The annual report can be filed through the Department of Financial Institutions website and will be assessed a $65 filing fee.

Federal Forms

In order to be viewed as an S-Corp for Federal tax purposes, each corporation must elect that status by filing Form 2553: Election by a Small Business Corporation with the IRS. This form must be signed by each shareholder and be submitted no more than 2.5 months from the start of the corporations’ first tax year.

The corporation will also need to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes. To apply for this number, visit the IRS website and answer a few questions to obtain the number for immediate download.

Final Steps for Set Up

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 Wisconsin, feel free to comment below.
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