Form a General Partnership in West Virginia

Discover how a general partnership works in West Virginia, where people team up to handle tasks and split profits. Dive into our guide for crucial insights on navigating the complexities of this collaborative business structure.

West Virginia general partnership
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By joining at least one other person in a profitable business venture, you’ve created a West Virginia general partnership. Unlike most business types, there’s no filing requirement to form a general partnership.

This article will discuss the pros and cons of general partnerships and explain how to form a general partnership in West Virginia. 

Step 1: Determine if you should start a general partnership

A general partnership may meet the needs of some businesses but not be suitable for others. Let’s look at the pros and cons of forming a general partnership in West Virginia. 

Pros

Here are some advantages that general partnerships offer:

  • They’re easy to form and maintain
  • You can choose your management structure and style
  • Partners share the business costs
  • Earnings are typically taxed at the personal income level (pass-through taxation)

If you’re looking to formalize a short-term business endeavor, then a West Virginia general partnership may be all you need. 

Cons

There are some drawbacks to running a general partnership. Consider the following cons:

  • Each partner is personally liable for the other partner’s actions
  • Partners’ personal assets are on the line 
  • All partners share the business debts and legal obligations
  • The partnership ends when one partner dies or withdraws 

General partnerships are suitable for small businesses with no employees, little income, and short-term horizons. 

A legal and financial professional can help you decide which business structure is best for you and your company. 

Step 2: Choose a business name

General partnerships typically use the partners’ last names as the official business name. This is all fine and good, but your business name says everything about your company. You may want to have a name with a little more zest, something that will make your business stand out. If that’s the case, you can file with the state to obtain a trade name, which we will discuss below. 

Remember to check if the name you want is available by contacting the State Tax Department. 

Step 3: File a DBA Name (if needed)

Some general partnerships choose to use a different name than the default of the partners’ last names. . This is known as a trade name or “doing business as” (DBA) name. 

In West Virginia, general partnerships obtain a DBA or trade name by submitting an application to the Business & Licensing Division of  West Virginia Secretary of State. You can use more than one DBA name. We have more information about West Virginia DBAs if you’re interested in getting one. 

Step 4: Draft and sign partnership agreement

Partnership Agreements are private documents that govern the operations of a partnership. You don’t file this document with the state or publish it anywhere. 

A Partnership Agreement typically includes information about the following:

  • Ownership rights
  • Profit and loss sharing
  • Dissolution events
  • Roles and responsibilities 
  • Conflict resolution

If you choose not to adopt a Partnership Agreement, West Virginia’s Uniform Partnership Act is the default. What happens under the law may not be what you want, so it’s a good business practice to create a West Virginia general Partnership Agreement. 

Step 5: Obtain licenses, permits, clearances

West Virginia requires all businesses to have a West Virginia registration certificate from the State Tax Department before conducting any business. From there, you may need to get additional licenses, permits, clearances, or a combination depending on your business’s location and activity type. Business licenses are issued at the federal, state, and local levels, so thoroughly research what you need. 

If you’re not sure where to start, let our partners at Avalara do the work for you. With some information about your business, they can run a Business License Report that summarizes what you need to operate legally. 

Step 6: Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Just like a social security number, an EIN is the IRS’s way of identifying your business. Your general partnership will need an EIN to file taxes, obtain financing, and open a bank account.

You can get an EIN on the IRS’s website, or let us take care of it with our Employer ID Number Service.

Step 7: Get West Virginia state tax identification numbers

While there’s no filing requirement with the Secretary of State’s office, you do need to register as a general partnership in West Virginia with the State Tax Department. The state will assign a tax identification number to your business. This number is necessary to pay any state taxes your general partnership owes. 

You need to register through the West Virginia Business Portal service to file your business taxes. 

Forming a Business Partnership in West Virginia: Next Steps

Once you’ve taken the steps listed above, there are a few more things to do.

First, open a business checking account. By doing this, you keep your personal and business finances separate. It’s also easy to have all your business transactions in one account when tax season comes around. 

Second, talk to an insurance agent about the type of coverage you need. This is an important step to protect yourself, your partner, and your business. 

How We Can Help

Setting up a business is exciting, but once you’re up and running, then what? There are many state filing requirements to keep your business in good standing. We can help with that. We offer a Worry-Free Compliance Service that keeps you up to date on your reporting and filing obligations. If you lose your good standing, we’ll help get you back on track.

We’re here to support entrepreneurs and small businesses. Check out all of our products and services that are meant to help your company succeed. We can also help you create a West Virginia limited liability company (LLC) or corporation if that suits your business needs, especially if you’d like the advantage of more robust liability protection.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

West Virginia General Partnership FAQs

  • You don’t form a West Virginia general partnership by filing paperwork with the Secretary of State. You have a general partnership as long as you and at least one other person run a business and are making money. However, you do need to register your business with the State Tax Department for tax reasons.

  • General partnerships enjoy pass-through taxation in West Virginia. However, partnerships may pay other state taxes depending on the location of your business and the type of activity it conducts.

  • Partners and owners both own a portion of the business. However, partners have the right to manage the company, whereas owners don’t.

  • Partnerships are organized by two or more partners engaging in business for profit. After that, the partners can decide how to manage and structure the partnership. They can either set their own rules in a Partnership Agreement or default to West Virginia law.

  • Partners equally share the debts of the general partnership. Each partner is also liable for any actions of the other partners, so if one partner secures debt on behalf of the partnership, then all partners are equally responsible.

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