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There are many benefits to forming a limited liability company (LLC) in West Virginia, especially for young entrepreneurs and military veterans. An LLC offers protection for your personal assets by keeping them separate from your business dealings. This business structure provides more flexibility than a traditional corporation setup and comes with tax benefits, as well. Check out our comprehensive step-by-step guide below to find all the information you need to get your LLC up and running.
1Name Your West Virginia LLC
Appoint a Registered Agent in West Virginia
File West Virginia Articles of Organization
Create an Operating Agreement
Apply for an EIN
Obtain a West Virginia Business Registration Certificate
If you’re ready to start a new business, you’ve put some thought into how to name your LLC. Now is the time to narrow down which name you would like to use. State law guides the naming of businesses in West Virginia, so you’ll need to make sure that the name you choose abides by these requirements:
To check if your name is available, you’ll need to conduct a name availability search online via the Business Organization Search. This search checks what you’ve entered against the records of registered names with the West Virginia Secretary of State. You may also call the Secretary of State Business Division at (304) 558-8000 for assistance. The staff can do an informal, nonbinding name check for you.
Once you’ve made sure your LLC name is available in West Virginia and on the internet, you have the option of reserving it so that no one else can use it before you can officially launch your business. An LLC name reservation with the Secretary of State protects your company’s name for 120 days from the filing date.
The fee for filing an LLC name reservation is $15. It’s important to note and remember a unique West Virginia requirement: The person who reserves the name on the state’s application must be the same person who signs the initial business startup documents.
You’ll have to submit the completed filing to one of the business centers listed on the application. You can email your application to CorpFilings@wvsos.gov, fax your document, or drop it off in person.
Another thing to consider after you register your LLC name is whether you want to use a trade name. In West Virginia, a trade name is any name under which you conduct business that is different from your LLC’s official and legal name. This type of name is also known as a “doing business as” (DBA) name, true name, and fictitious name. An LLC only needs to use a trade name if you want to:
There are no limits to the number of trade names a company or person can register. The cost for trade name registration with the state is $25. The registration allows you to operate under this name, but it offers no protection against others using the same name to do business.
You may want to file for a West Virginia trademark or a service mark registration to protect your business name or trade name once it’s in use. It costs $50 for up to two classifications, and then $50 for each additional classification. To register with West Virginia, you’ll need to:
It’s also wise to check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to see if the trademark is already registered at the federal level. This government office is where you can register your trademark or service mark nationwide. While it’s often easier and quicker to register a trademark at the state level, the federal level can provide broader protection, especially if you plan on doing business outside of West Virginia.
A registered agent, also known as an agent for service of process, is a person or business entity appointed to receive legal correspondence on your company’s behalf. Taxes, service of process (lawsuits), and other legal documents are received by your agent only during normal business hours. It’s their job to be available to receive notices, which helps your LLC stay in compliance.
You can be your own registered agent, but you may not want to be. Having to always be available to receive legal correspondence can keep you tied down to the office, unable to go meet with clients or take vacations, and being served with a lawsuit in front of clients is never good for business. ZenBusiness can connect you with a registered agent service that will provide you with more privacy, security, and peace of mind.
You’ll designate your registered agent and detail their contact information in your Articles of Organization, as explained in the next step.
Your Articles of Organization form is a legal document that you must complete and file with the state to start your LLC in West Virginia officially. To file your Articles of Organization, you will need the following information:
Your LLC is considered a professional limited liability company (PLLC) if you practice one of the following professions:
The fee for filing your Articles of Organization is $100 unless you plan to be a veteran-owned organization. Veteran owners can have this fee waived if they meet certain requirements and file a waiver form. Veterans must submit a DD 214 form from the Department of Veterans Affairs with their Articles of Organization, too. Young entrepreneurs under the age of 30 also qualify to have this fee waived.
You can submit your Articles of Organization by email, fax, in person, or online.
An Operating Agreement is a document that outlines how your LLC will operate. It details all the rules, procedures, and regulations that all members and/or managers must abide by. West Virginia law doesn’t require you to file an agreement; however, creating one and having all members sign it can help protect personal assets and your company. The agreement can even help solve future issues between members.
An LLC Operating Agreement can include information such as:
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a tax ID number issued to businesses by the IRS. Obtaining an EIN is necessary to do things such as hire employees, open a business bank account, and pay taxes. It’s a way for the government to identify your LLC and apply the proper taxes. You can apply online with the IRS or over the phone by calling the IRS Business and Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933.
Fortunately, that’s where ZenBusiness can help. Starting at just $49 per year, ZenBusiness can help you form your West Virginia LLC by completing and submitting all of the necessary paperwork, acting as your registered agent, and providing a template for your Operating Agreement. For a bit more per year, you can also get more comprehensive benefits, including expedited services, obtaining your EIN, and an automatically generated webpage. Whichever plan you choose, partnering with ZenBusiness means peace of mind for you at every step of your LLC’s formation.
West Virginia is a scenic state that’s rich in American history. It’s centrally located on the East Coast, within an eight-hour driving distance of many major metropolitan areas. Over half of the U.S. population can be easily reached within a day from the Mountain State.
West Virginia strongly supports young entrepreneurs and U.S. military veterans, so the state makes it more affordable for them to start an LLC in West Virginia. Business owners who are West Virginia residents and under the age of 30 qualify for a free filing of their LLC’s Articles of Organization. Proof of age and residency will be required to qualify.
The Boots to Business waiver is an initiative by the state to help veterans transition from military to civilian life. To qualify as a veteran-owned LLC, the veteran must be honorably discharged or discharged under honorable conditions.
The state law also requires that at least 51% of the business must be owned by a veteran or veterans. To file as a veteran-owned LLC, follow the instructions on your Articles of Organization form, as you’ll need to supply additional documentation to qualify.
Other benefits of forming a West Virginia LLC include:
Learn more about the benefits of the LLC business structure.
In West Virginia, a limited liability company is taxed as a partnership or corporation. It depends on how you elect your LLC to be taxed for federal income tax. When you apply for your West Virginia Business Registration Certificate, the State Tax Department will establish a tax account for your LLC. They’ll provide you with the appropriate tax reporting forms, so you will know which West Virginia business taxes you’ll need to pay.
You can form your West Virginia LLC by mail or in person, but it is faster and easier to do so online. The Secretary of State’s office encourages filing online through the One Stop Business Portal. You’ll receive real-time updates as your forms are processed. The office also offers expedited processing times for the following fees: 24-hour for $25, two-hour for $250, and one-hour for $500.
No, you don’t need to file your Operating Agreement with the state; however, it’s recommended that you have one to run your business and further protect your assets.
As an LLC in West Virginia, you can choose whether you want to be taxed as a partnership or corporation. Whichever you choose, you must also be taxed as such at the federal level. There are pros and cons to each tax structure. It’s best to speak with an expert about which tax structure is most beneficial for your situation.
No, West Virginia doesn’t allow a Series LLC. This business structure has one main LLC under which multiple LLCs can be organized.
You may need to apply for special business licenses and permits from the West Virginia Department of Labor, depending on the type of business you plan to operate. If your LLC provides professional services, such as accounting or chiropractic care, you must communicate with your state licensing board. They’ll need to complete a Verification of Eligibility form to file with your Articles of Organizations.
Here is a full list of businesses that require additional registration with the state. Check with your local county clerk and municipal office to see if you need any further local licenses and/or permits to operate legally within the area’s limits. You are responsible for determining whatever licensing your LLC needs, whether it’s federal, state, local, or industry-specific, so you’ll need to do some research or hire someone to conduct the research for you.
As for insurance, West Virginia law requires all employers to maintain workers’ compensation. You can file for this insurance with the state’s Offices of the Insurance Commissioner Employer Coverage Unit. Employers will also have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax with WorkForce West Virginia.
If your business owns vehicles, you’ll be required to have commercial auto insurance. Construction and private investigator/security businesses have unique requirements.
As for optional insurance coverage, there are many types from which to choose. Property, liability, and criminal coverage are typical choices for most small businesses. Life insurance, health insurance, and disability coverage can also be considered. It’s best to talk to a trusted insurance provider to explore your options.
We hope our guide has been helpful and that you feel more confident and ready to start your LLC. Want to learn more about starting a business in West Virginia? Contact us today!
Already a West Virginia small business owner? Learn how ZenBusiness can help you run or grow your West Virginia small business today!
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