Starting an LLC in Wisconsin comes with more costs than just filing the initial paperwork. But it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think.
We explain all of the initial and ongoing Wisconsin LLC cost details below, as well as give you tips on how to save money.
How much does an LLC cost in Wisconsin?
It costs $130 to form an LLC in Wisconsin. This is a fee paid for the Wisconsin Articles of Organization.
You’ll file this form with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. And once approved, your LLC will go into existence.
In addition to this LLC filing fee, there are other costs to be aware of when forming a Wisconsin LLC (Wisconsin Limited Liability Company).
Costs to forming a Wisconsin LLC
There is a $130 one-time state filing fee to form an LLC online.
There are also ongoing fees (like a $25 Annual Report fee), which we discuss below.
LLC Costs in Wisconsin
|Articles of Organization
|$0 or $125 per year
|Free on our website
|Free from the IRS
|$25 per year
Wisconsin LLC Articles of Organization Filing Fee ($130)
Starting an LLC in Wisconsin costs $130. This is the state filing fee for a document called the Wisconsin Articles of Organization if you file online.
The Articles of Organization are filed with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. And once approved, this is what creates your LLC.
The $130 fee is a one-time fee. You don’t have to pay any monthly (or annual) fees to start your Wisconsin LLC.
If you file your Wisconsin Articles of Organization with a paper form by mail, you will pay a slightly higher fee of $170.
Note: LLCs are the most common business structure used in Wisconsin. They are the most popular business entity because they offer liability protection for the LLC Members (owners).
Wisconsin business name cost ($0)
Naming your Limited Liability Company doesn’t cost anything. The Wisconsin DFI doesn’t require you to file a Name Reservation as part of the LLC formation process.
Your Wisconsin LLC Name is approved (at no extra cost) when your Articles of Organization is approved by the state.
How much does a DBA cost? ($15)
A DBA (aka Trademark or Trade Name) is filed with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions using the Wisconsin DFI: Trademark System. The fee is $15 to get a DBA for your LLC. And they can be renewed every 10 years for $15.
Tip: You aren’t required to get a DBA for your LLC. It’s optional. For more information, read our article: Do I need a DBA?
Wisconsin Registered Agent Fee ($0 or $125/year)
Wisconsin law requires you to designate a Registered Agent when forming your LLC.
A Wisconsin Registered Agent is a person or company who receives legal documents and state notices for your LLC. A Registered Agent needs a street address in Wisconsin and should generally be available during normal business hours.
There is no additional cost ($0) if you will be your own Registered Agent, or have someone you know be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
However, you have the option of hiring a Registered Agent Service. This will cost you about $125 per year. But Registered Agent Service companies offer other helpful business services and can protect your privacy.
Hiring a Registered Agent Service is a good idea if:
- You don’t have an address in the state (Wisconsin law requires Registered Agents to have a physical address in the state)
- You want to keep your address off public record (depending on which company you hire, you may be able to use their address to keep your address private)
LLC Operating Agreement Fee ($0)
A Wisconsin LLC Operating Agreement is a written contract between the LLC Members. Operating Agreements include detailed information about LLC ownership, how the LLC is managed, and how profits are distributed.
Single-Member LLCs and Multi-Member LLCs should draft an Operating Agreement, keep it with their business records, and give a copy to each Member.
Most websites charge $50 – $200 for LLC Operating Agreements.
Here at LLC University®, we offer free LLC Operating Agreement templates for all types of LLCs.
LLC EIN Number Fee ($0)
An EIN Number is also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
This number is used to file income taxes, to open an LLC bank account, and to hire employees (if applicable).
Although many websites charge a service fee to help you get an EIN for your LLC, it can actually be done for free.
You can obtain an EIN for your LLC from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at no cost. The online filing can be completed in a few minutes.
Wisconsin LLC Annual Report Fee ($25/year)
Wisconsin requires you to keep your LLC’s information up to date by filing an Annual Report.
This keeps your LLC in good standing and in compliance with state law so it can continue operating. You simply confirm the information on the Annual Report, file it with the Wisconsin DFI, and pay the Annual Report fee.
The Wisconsin LLC Annual Report costs $25 per year. This fee is paid every year for the life of your LLC.
Wisconsin Business Licenses and Permits Fees (varies)
Depending on where your LLC does business in Wisconsin and the industry you’re in, you may need to obtain a Wisconsin Business License or permit. For example, many businesses in Wisconsin need a sales tax license to collect Wisconsin sales tax on products sold directly to consumers.
The costs for your business license or permit will vary depending on location and industry, but usually the fees are not very high.
Some licenses and permits are issued at the state level by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, and others are issued by a municipality (the town, city, or county).
LLC Taxes (varies)
There are many different types of Wisconsin LLC taxes that owners must pay, so this annual cost varies widely.
Some of the taxes LLC owners pay include:
- Federal income tax
- State income tax
- Local income tax
- Business taxes
- Self employment taxes
- Sales and use tax
- Payroll tax (if you have employees)
- Property tax (if the LLC owns property)
Your Wisconsin LLC taxes depend on your industry and amount of business activity, so we’re not able to provide an estimate. Every business is different, and your specific circumstance determines what taxes apply to your LLC.
Hiring an Accountant
How much your small business pays in taxes is best determined by working with a qualified accountant in Wisconsin.
The amount you’ll pay your accountant will vary. However, most accountants will charge between $300 per year for a simpler tax return, or up to $900 for more detailed filings.
Note: We recommend speaking with a few accountants in Wisconsin to make sure they can help you meet all your federal, state, and local tax obligations. We offer detailed tips on How to Find an Accountant.
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
If you have any questions about the cost of opening a Wisconsin LLC, you can contact the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).
Their phone number is 608-261-7577. And their hours are Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm Central Time.
Wisconsin LLC Cost FAQs
How much does it cost to start an LLC in Wisconsin?
It costs $170 to file by mail or by using Wisconsin’s One Stop business portal.
However, if you file online using the DFI’s QuickStart LLC system, you get a $40 discount and the fee is only $130.
This Wisconsin LLC filing fee is for the Articles of Organization, and is a one-time fee paid to the Wisconsin DFI.
Do you have to pay an annual fee for a Wisconsin LLC?
Yes, all Wisconsin LLCs need to pay $25 per year for the Annual Report. These state fees are paid to the Wisconsin DFI. You have to pay this to keep your LLC in good standing.
If you hire a Registered Agent service, you’ll have an annual fee to pay each year. This is usually about $125 per year.
Some LLCs may need a business license in Wisconsin. This depends on your industry and where your LLC is located. You’ll need to check with your municipality to see if there are any annual fees for the business license.
Do I need to hire an attorney to form an LLC?
No, you aren’t required to hire an attorney to form your LLC in Wisconsin. You’re allowed to form your LLC yourself if you’d like.
However, some people may want to hire an attorney if their LLC has a complex ownership or management structure, has investors, or requires industry-specific documentation.
A business attorney usually charges between $800 and $2,500 to form an LLC.
Should I hire an LLC formation service?
You aren’t required to hire a professional service company to form your LLC in Wisconsin. You’re allowed to form your LLC yourself if you’d like.
However, if you want to save time and make sure your LLC is filed correctly, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent.
Northwest Registered Agent has excellent customer service and they include Registered Agent services free for the 1st year. They also offer other services, like an Operating Agreement and filing your Annual Report.
What’s the cheapest way to start an LLC?
You can get an LLC cheaply by filing your formation documents yourself. You’ll also save money by being your own Registered Agent, and using our free LLC Operating Agreement template.
By forming your LLC yourself and being your own Registered Agent, you can save over $250.
How much does a Wisconsin business bank account cost?
It varies. Some banks charge monthly fees ($10 to $20 per month), but these can sometimes be avoided by meeting certain requirements. For example, if you make a certain number of direct deposits or maintain a specified minimum balance, then they’ll waive the monthly fees.
And you might be able to find a bank that doesn’t charge any monthly fees.
Before you open your LLC bank account, we recommend calling and asking if there are ways to avoid the monthly maintenance fees.
How much is a Foreign LLC in Wisconsin?
A Foreign LLC is an LLC formed in another state that must register (aka Foreign Qualify) in Wisconsin. This is because the LLC is doing business in both states.
The Wisconsin Foreign LLC cost is $100. The form to file is called the Certificate of Registration for a Foreign Limited Liability Company (Form 521).
If you form an LLC in Wisconsin, it’s called a “Domestic LLC” in WI. If you form the LLC somewhere else and register it in Wisconsin, it’s called a “Foreign LLC” in WI.
How long does it take to get an LLC in Wisconsin?
How long it takes to get an LLC in Wisconsin depends on how you file your Articles of Organization.
|Normal LLC processing time:
|Wisconsin LLC by mail:
|5 business days (plus mail time)
|1 business day ($25 extra)
|Wisconsin LLC online:
Is Wisconsin a good state for an LLC?
Yes, Wisconsin is a great state to start a business. Wisconsin has quick approval times and helpful representatives at the DFI if you have questions. And Wisconsin doesn’t have a general business license requirement.
However, the most important factors in deciding where to start a business are where you live and where you’re doing business.
Meaning, if you live in or do business in Wisconsin, then you should start your business in Wisconsin. While many websites talk about tax rates and advantages of certain states, none of that applies if it’s not the state where you live and do business. And just because a certain state has cheaper LLC fees doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to form your LLC there.
For example, if you form an LLC in Florida, but live in and conduct business in Wisconsin, you’ll also need to register your Florida LLC in Wisconsin (and pay fees). And you’ll end up paying Wisconsin taxes anyway. This ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.
In summary, if you live in and do business in Wisconsin, then yes, Wisconsin is the best state to form an LLC. If you don’t live in and do business in Wisconsin, then no, Wisconsin probably isn’t a good state to start an LLC.
How do I set up an LLC in Wisconsin?
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Wisconsin:
- Choose an LLC business name and make sure it’s available
- Choose who will be your Wisconsin Registered Agent
- File the Wisconsin Articles of Organization
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
- Open a business bank account
- Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Uniform LLC Act
Wisconsin LLC Act: Section 183.0122
Wisconsin DOR: Business Tax Registration FAQs
Wisconsin DFI: Corporations Section Filing Fees
Wisconsin DFI: Corporations Section Filing Forms
Wisconsin DFI: Online UCC and Trademark System
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.