Start a Business in Wisconsin

This guide on starting your business in Wisconsin provides step-by-step instructions on the paperwork to file formation documents, obtain tax IDs, and set up company records.

how to start a business

Step-By-Step Startup

Below is an overview of the paperwork, cost, and time to form each of the most popular business structures. Simply click on the link for your desired structure to view detailed step-by-step instructions.

  • If you have not decided whether you want to form an LLC, corporation, or other business structure, click here.
  • If wish to form your business in a different state than Wisconsin, click here.
Structure Paperwork Cost Time

Wisconsin Limited Liability Company

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  • Form 502: Articles of Organization - Limited Liability Company
  • Operating Agreement
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form BTR-101: Application for Business Tax Registration
  • Formation: $170 paper or $130 online. Optional $25 expedite fee by either filing method.
  • Wisconsin business tax registration: $20
  • Formation: ~4-7 business days. ~1 business day for $25 expedite fee.

Wisconsin Corporation

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  • Form 2: Articles of Incorporation - Stock For-Profit Corporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form 2553: S-Corp Election, if desired
  • Form BTR-101: Application for Business Tax Registration
  • Incorporation: $100 + optional $25 expedite fee
  • Wisconsin tax registration: $20
  • Incorporation: ~4-7 business days. ~1 business day for $25 expedite fee.

Wisconsin Nonprofit

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  • Form 102: Articles of Incorporation - Nonstock Corporations
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • IRS Form 1023: 501(c) Tax Exempt Application
  • IRS Determination Letter
  • Form BTR-101: Application for Business Tax Registration
  • Form S-103: Application for Wisconsin Sales and Use Tax Certificate of Exempt Status (CES)
  • URS Charitable Registration, if applicable
  • Form 296: Charitable Organization Registration Statement
  • Incorporation: $35
  • 501(c): $400 or $850 IRS fee
  • Wisconsin business tax registration: $20
  • Wisconsin charitable registration: $15 ($0 if exempt)
  • Incorporation: ~4-7 business days
  • 501(c): 2 weeks to 3 months

Top 5 Tips on Registering a Business in Wisconsin

  1. The corporation registrar in Wisconsin is the Department of Financial Institutions (WDFI).
  2. When filing with the WDFI by mail, submit original and one copy. The copy will be marked "FILED" and returned as evidence of filing.
  3. Wisconsin offers a consolidated registration application for new business state tax registration. Business Tax Registration (BTR) must be renewed after 2 years for a fee of $10.
  4. A corporate designator is required in your LLC or corporate name.
  5. Corporations and LLCs must file annual reports with WDFI. The form is mailed from WDFI to your registered agent.


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This page was last fact-checked January 22, 2014.

Incorporation Service

Your specialist works with you 1-on-1 to form your LLC, corporation, or other business structure. We prepare and file most formations in just one business day!

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