How Much Does It Cost to Form an WI Corporation?
Legal business registration — and maintaining compliance — involves necessary expenses and investment. Some of these costs are payable to the WI Department of Financial Institutions, while others are due to additional state entities or the federal government. Here are some common requirements and fees.
Please note that fees for a State of Wisconsin business license or permit may be due when you first form your business, on an ongoing schedule or on an ad hoc basis. Find more details below.
Initial Wisconsin Corporation Filing Fees
When starting a business in Wisconsin State, you’ll need to file a form and pay a filing fee. Here are the current Wisconsin corporation filing fees and times:
Wisconsin Filing Time & Price
When you use Bizee to register a business in Wisconsin, we charge you the state filing fee and forward it to the Department of Financial Institutions when we file your incorporation paperwork.
Employer Identification Number
Every corporation in the country should have a unique EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the Internal Revenue Service. You'll use it when you open a business bank account, file taxes and pay employees. You can get one directly from the IRS, or Bizee can get one for you.
If you want to do business in a state other than the one where your business is based, you must create a Foreign Corporation.
Wisconsin Foreign Corporation Registration
Before you can bring an arm of your business from another state into Wisconsin, you must request a Wisconsin Certificate of Authority. This means the state gives you permission to conduct business there.
To request registration of a Wisconsin Foreign Corporation, you must complete an Application for Certificate of Authority and pay a processing fee of $100. The state may have additional registration requirements, so contact the Wisconsin State Department of Financial Institutions directly for more information and to ensure you're in compliance with WI corporation law.
Foreign Qualification to Operate in Another State
If you plan to expand your Wisconsin corporation into another state, you’ll first need Foreign Qualification or a Certificate of Authority from that state. This is necessary before you can create a physical presence, hire employees or bank in that state.
You'll likely have to complete at least one application and pay a filing fee, but each state has its own requirements. Before you start the process, compare state filing times and state filing fees so you can plan accordingly.
Above all, contact the state government entity that administers business (usually the Secretary of State) to confirm their requirements and for specific instructions.
If you need assistance, Bizee provides a complete Foreign Qualification service for all states.
Wisconsin Annual Report Requirements
Most states require business entities to file an annual (or other periodic) report. Wisconsin requires an annual report to be filed every year with the WI Department of Financial Institutions.
When you complete your annual report you may file it online along with a filing fee of $25. If you choose to file a paper form, the processing fee is $40.
Based on anniversary date
Jan 1 - Mar 31: Mar 31
Apr 1 - Jun 30: Jun 31
Jul 1 - Sep 30: Sep 30
Oct 1 - Dec 31: Dec 31
During first calendar quarter of each year following calendar year in which foreign corporation was authorized to transact business.
*$40 if you file with a paper form.
State of Wisconsin Business License and Permit Requirements
Before you start doing business, you must secure the necessary state, federal or local business licenses and permits to operate your corporation. Some of the fees will only need to be paid once, while others may be ongoing charges.
Permits and licenses vary based on:
Although you aren't required to have Wisconsin corporation bylaws, it's a good idea to have them in place.
Bylaws outline certain rules for carrying out tasks related to managing your corporation including, but not limited to:
- The number of directors the corporation has.
- How they'll be elected, their qualifications and the lengths of their terms.
- When, where and how your board of directors can call and conduct meetings.
- Voting requirements.
The bylaws will then be adopted (and amended, if necessary) by the board of directors and shareholders.
Drafting a set of bylaws can be extremely helpful in making sure you’re organized and can help protect your business from any future changes and events that may affect your business.
Other WI Corporation Filing Requirements and Fees
The State of Wisconsin requires you to complete a few more tasks before you can begin conducting business.
Appoint a Director
Some states require corporations to appoint a full board of directors. Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations Chapter 180, Subchapter 8, §§ 180.0803 requires all corporations to have at least one director.
Unlike many states, Wisconsin doesn't require any specific duties or positions to be filled by certain officers. Officers may simultaneously hold more than one office in a corporation as stated in Chapter 180, Subchapter 8, §§ 180.0840.
Issue Stock to Shareholders
To raise business capital and keep it separate from company owners' money, every Wisconsin corporation must sell stock to its shareholders. The Articles of Incorporation must authorize the sale of at least one class of share, and the corporation cannot sell more shares than are authorized.
Hold Annual General Meetings
This is one area where Wisconsin differs from other states. You may hold annual meetings, and it's generally a good idea to do so. But should you decide not to, Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations Chapter 180, Subchapter 7, §§ 180.0701 states that "Failure to hold an annual meeting in one or more years does not affect the validity of any corporate action."
Change the Registered Agent
If your corporation is based in Wisconsin, then you must have a Registered Agent in the state. You'll need to appoint one when you file your Articles of Incorporation. You can also change to a new Registered Agent later by filing a form and paying a fee of $10.
Reserving a Name for Your Corporation
If you're not quite ready to start your business, you can reserve a name for 120 days with the Department of Financial Institutions by filing a form and paying a fee of $15. First, conduct a WI corporation search and learn the state's business naming rules to ensure you choose a name that meets legal requirements.
Amending Facts About Your Corporation
When you incorporate, the Wisconsin business forms you fill out include certain facts about your business at that time. Through the years, some or all of this information may change. If it does, you'll need to file a Articles of Amendment with the Department of Financial Institutions along with a filing fee of $40. You can do this yourself or Bizee can do it for you.
You'll need to file Articles of Amendment when you:
- Change the company's name
- Add, remove or change a director
- Change the Registered Agent
- Change the number of shares your corporation is authorized to issue
- Change any other facet of your business that was listed in the original Articles of Incorporation.
Get a Certificate of Good Standing
Some organizations may request that you prove your corporation's compliance with laws and tax requirements. In most states, this proof is provided with a Certificate of Good Standing. In this state, it's a WI Certificate of Status.
If you need to prove you have met your commitments, you’ll need to request a WI Certificate of Status from the Department of Financial Institutions. You can do this by submitting a form to the Wisconsin DFI and paying a filing fee. The fee starts at $10 and will increase depending on your requested certificate parameters.
The information listed above details many of the fees a standard corporation will be required to pay in Wisconsin. In some circumstances, there may be other one-off, periodic or ad hoc fees not listed above.
Of course, your corporation will also probably need to pay federal, state, self-employment (if it's an S Corp) and other taxes. You'll find more information on the Wisconsin taxes page.