Updated for 2023

Costs & Fees to Form and Operate an LLC in Wisconsin

Written by Tyler Davis – CPA, updated on

Wisconsin is a budget-friendly north-central state. Running a Wisconsin LLC is affordable for all small businesses and solopreneurs alike.

Starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in the state of Wisconsin is not a very difficult process — such you can do yourself to save some money.

But there are still some costs business owners can’t shave off if they wish to comply with all company formation requirements and retain good standing with the state.

Some of these costs are mandatory, such as formation documents state filing fees, or annual renewal fees. But others may be reduced or dropped.

For example, LLC name reservation fee or operating agreement costs for single-member LLCs.

Below is a further cost breakdown.

Costs related to Wisconsin LLCs:

  1. Wisconsin LLC formation cost
  2. Extra Wisconsin LLC costs to account for
  3. Does Wisconsin have an annual LLC fee?
  4. What taxes do LLCs pay in Wisconsin?
  5. Conclusion: How much does an LLC cost in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin LLC formation cost: $130

The key document you need to file with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (not Secretary of State) to form a domestic LLC in WI is the articles of organization.

The filing fee is $170 if the articles of organization are submitted by paper, or $130 if submitted online via the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (“DFI”)’s QuickStart LLC website.

Wisconsin is actively transitioning to e-filing, so online submissions are recommended. They are also processed faster.

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ QuickStart LLC directions for Domestic LLC formation
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ QuickStart LLC directions for Domestic LLC formation. Source: Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

A foreign LLC that plans on doing business in Wisconsin will need to file an Application for Certificate of Registration. It comes with a filing fee of $100. It, too, can be filed by mail or electronically.

Wisconsin Certificate of Registration foreign LLC form
Wisconsin Certificate of Registration foreign LLC form. Source: Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

Processing time

The general processing time for formation documents is five (5) business days upon the receipt of filing documents.

Both formation documents can be expedited for submitting an additional state filing fee of $25. Expedited service should provide your LLC with a response by the end of the business day following the day in which the formation documents were received.

There’s an additional requirement here beyond the extra fee. You need to clearly mark each document with “FOR EXPEDITED SERVICE.”

Extra Wisconsin LLC costs to account for

There are other Wisconsin LLC costs that all business owners should be aware of, even though they may not all apply to your LLC.

Filing fees for domestic entities in Wisconsin
Filing fees for domestic entities in Wisconsin. Source: Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

Registered agent costs

Your Wisconsin LLC will need to have a registered agent located in the state with a physical street address. They will have to be available to handle the service of process for legal documents during standard business hours.

The registered agent and their address (or your LLC’s principal registered office address) must be listed on the formation documents. Specifically, the articles of organization for domestic LLCs and the application for a certificate of registration for foreign LLCs.

There’s no additional cost for listing the original registered agent on the formation documents. However, if you decide to change any registered agent details later on, you’ll need to file a form with the state and pay a $10 filing fee.

Some business owners decide to hire a commercial registered agent service for a few reasons. They can provide convenience, privacy, availability to receive service of process documents in Wisconsin. Plus experience (which can be great for new business owners unfamiliar with the process!), and is a time-saver!

Costs range from around $49-$125 per year.

Formation services

Some LLC formation services also offer registered agent services helping with LLC formation document preparation and submissions.

For example, an LLC operating agreement does not need to be filed with the WI officials but makes sense if you want to formalize LLC members' rights and obligations.

Trade name registration: $15

A trade name, or doing business as name (DBA), is an alternative brand name your business uses instead (or along with) your legal company name. Registering a trade name prevents other business entities from using it in the state.

It’s not a requirement for forming an LLC. However, a trade name might be necessary if your company operates several brands.

For LLCs that want to register a trade name or other type of trademark with the state of Wisconsin, there’s a trade name registration form and a $15 filing fee. It expires after 10 years but can be renewed 6 months before the expiration date.

Trademark filings and requests are currently only accepted by the DFI via online applications or walk-in drop-offs. There are also additional requirements to know for your LLC if you register a trade name or other trademark.

Wisconsin LLC name reservation: $15

Checking that the name of your LLC is available is only one aspect of the process. Both a foreign LLC and a domestic LLC may wish to file for a name reservation for a few reasons.

If the LLC name is available, the only way to ensure that another business entity won’t take the same name is to make an LLC name reservation filing and pay a $15 fee to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

Also, by submitting this filing, you can finish preparing your LLC’s organization and other formation documents, obtain a domain name, and wrap up other filing requirements (such as with the IRS and local state tax agencies) without losing your LLCs desired name in the meantime.

The name is reserved for 180 days and can be renewed for another 180.

Certified document copies

Certified copies of your LLC documents can be requested online or by filing a paper form SP 48/50. Costs are $5 for simple copies, $10 for certified, and $25 if you request expedited service. The cost is per copy.

Business permits and licenses

Doing business in Wisconsin doesn’t oblige you to obtain a general business license.

However, companies in specific regulated industries will need to obtain business permits and licenses. These vary in cost. So you must check at the state, county, city, and local government levels.

The Department of Safety and Professional Services is an excellent place to start.

As for the fees, these vary depending on your occupation. Here are some ballparks:

  • Aesthetician — $60 every odd year
  • Geologist — $56 every even year
  • Kickboxing judge — $15/year
  • Manicurist — $11 every odd year
  • Transportation network company — $5,000 every odd year

Some businesses also need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR). It largely depends on the nature of the company and whether there are employees of your Wisconsin LLC. DOR collects state employment taxes and state sales tax.

Filing for a Wisconsin seller’s tax permit costs $20.

Does Wisconsin have an annual LLC fee?

Yes. Wisconsin LLCs need to file an annual report with the Department of Financial Institutions by the end of the calendar quarter on the anniversary date for the Wisconsin LLC registration. The annual report can be filed online or by mail. There’s a $25 filing fee. Also, late fees apply.

What taxes do LLCs pay in Wisconsin?

While there are no minimal annual franchise taxes in this state for this type of business structure in Wisconsin, some other state taxes may apply.

Specifically, sales tax (if you sell applicable goods and services) and employment taxes.

On a federal level, you will also have to report your business income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For federal tax, an LLC is treated as a pass-through tax entity (like a sole proprietorship), meaning no corporate income taxes are due on business profits. Instead, all profits are reported on LLC members’ personal income tax returns, and applicable self-employment taxes are due.

Note: Your federal tax obligations may change if you elect another tax classification for your LLC, such as S-corporation or C-corporation.

Employee withholding

Businesses required to withhold income taxes from employees must register with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for a Business Tax Registration (BTR). The initial fee is $20, with a renewal fee of $10 billed every 2 years.

Note that there are some exceptions for filing for a BTR, as the Department of Revenue FAQ page explains.

If you’re bound by this tax requirement, you will also need to obtain an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS and use it for state reporting.

State sales taxes

LLCs selling goods may need to collect and remit both state and local sales taxes.

There’s a 5% state sales tax and use tax, a 0.5% county sales and use tax, and a 0.1% baseball stadium sales and use tax.

Conclusion: How much does an LLC cost in Wisconsin?

If you’re a domestic Wisconsin LLC, you can start an LLC for just $130 by filing your articles of organization online. If you don’t have to reserve your LLC name, hire a registered agent service, or register a trade name, this may be your only startup cost.

But you may also end up spending more. For example, a new small business forms a Wisconsin LLC online ($130), expedites service for one filing ($25), hires a lower cost registered agent service ($50), reserves a business name ($15), and registers a trade name ($15) is looking at $235 total.

Likewise, don’t forget to budget for ongoing incorporation costs such as annual LLC renewals ($25), business bank account, and applicable taxes.

Every Wisconsin business is different. So use these examples to estimate the cost for your Wisconsin LLC.

Last updated: May 2023

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Last updated: May 2023
Tyler Davis

Article by:

Tyler Davis


Tyler Davis is a CPA and real estate professional. Tyler enjoys working on the tax implications of real estate transactions, evaluating development and investing opportunities, and writing on current tax events. He worked for PwC in tax for five years where he advised on the tax implications of M&A transactions and provided tax provision support for Life and P&C Insurance companies. In his free time, Tyler is an avid golfer.

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