Starting a West Virginia LLC? Ah, the Mountain State — where the valleys echo with the potential of business ventures, just like they do with the reverberations of bluegrass melodies.Starting a limited liability company (LLC) in West Virginia can be as tricky and winding as a journey through the Appalachian trails. While you might not encounter any black bears or puzzling trail markers on this venture, you will find a dense thicket of paperwork, legal jargon, and state-specific nuances that might have you wishing for a trusty trail guide.
Similar to choosing the best fishing spot on the New River or figuring out which pepperoni roll spot truly reigns supreme in Fairmont, starting an LLC requires attention to detail and a solid grasp of the West Virginia landscape. And let’s be honest, with so many hoops to jump through and forms to fill out, it might sometimes feel like you’re decoding a new language.
Now, let’s get a lay of the land. This guide is designed to navigate you through setting up a domestic LLC right here in West Virginia. If you’re eyeing the more specialized terrain of a foreign LLC or a professional LLC (PLLC), you’ll need a different map entirely, as those ventures aren’t covered here.
Ready to venture into the wild and wonderful world of West Virginia LLC creation? Lace-up those hiking boots (or business shoes) and let’s hit the trail together.
Pick a unique name. Naming your West Virginia limited liability company comes first. If you’re ready to start a new business, you’ve likely put some thought into how to do this. Now is the time to narrow down which name you’d like to use.
State law guides the naming of businesses in the Mountain State, so you’ll need to make sure that the name you choose for your West Virginia LLC abides by these requirements:
It’s also a smart move to consider using your West Virginia LLC’s name for a domain name at this time. A domain name is the website address at which your customers can find your goods or services. It can be used as your official business email address, too.
A simple domain name search will show you if the company name, or any close variation of it, is available to use. We have a tool to help you do a preliminary domain name search, and our domain name registration service can help you secure the online name that will best serve your company.
The West Virginia Secretary of State may approve your desired LLC name, but they don’t check for trademarks. It could be a real pain if you set up your business, its signage, marketing materials, etc. only to be slapped with a trademark infringement lawsuit later.
To make sure you’re entirely in the clear with your desired business name, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website and do a search to make sure your business name or logo isn’t already federally trademarked.
Trademarks can also happen at the state level, so you’ll also want to make sure that no state trademarks exist on your planned LLC name. To find out more and/or apply for a state trademark, go to the West Virginia Secretary of State website page for trademarks. There you can conduct a state trademark search.
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 West Virginia Secretary of State protects your company’s name for 120 days from the filing date.
There’s a fee involved for filing an LLC name reservation. 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 or 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. There’s a fee involved for trade name registration with the state. The registration allows you to operate under this name, but it offers no protection against others using the same name to do business.
Name your LLC
Enter your desired business name to get started
Designate a registered agent. A registered agent is an individual or business entity appointed to receive legal documents (such as subpoenas) and certain state correspondence on your company’s behalf. All registered business entities in West Virginia must appoint and maintain a registered agent throughout the life of their business, the details of which become public record.
The requirements for a West Virginia registered agent are:
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.
Hiring a specific West Virginia registered agent service, such as our third-party partner, may provide you with the peace of mind you’re looking for.
You’ll designate your registered agent and detail their contact information in your Articles of Organization, as explained in the next step.
Complete and submit your LLC paperwork. 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’ll need the following information:
Your LLC is considered a professional limited liability company (PLLC) if you practice one of the following professions:
There is a fee of $130 involved for filing your Articles of 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. 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.
All of that being said, filing official government documents like this can be intimidating and/or complicated for many people, which is why we’re here. With our business formation plans, our professionals handle the filing for you to make sure it’s done quickly and correctly the first time.
If you have us handle filing your Articles of Organization, once the state approves your LLC, your paperwork will be available from your ZenBusiness dashboard, where you can keep it and other important paperwork digitally organized.
Once you get your physical paperwork back from the state approving your new LLC, you’ll want to keep it in a safe location along with your other important documents, such as your operating agreement, member certificates, contracts, compliance checklists, transfer ledger, etc.
We offer a customized business kit to help you keep these important documents organized and looking professional.
Draft an LLC operating agreement. 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 your personal assets because it’s one more piece of evidence showing that you and the LLC are truly separate entities. The agreement can also help solve future issues between members.
A West Virginia operating agreement can include information such as:
To help get you started, we offer a customizable operating agreement template.
Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is a tax ID number issued to businesses by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Obtaining an EIN is necessary to do things such as hire employees and pay taxes. It’s also a requirement for any business with multiple owners. It’s a way for the government to identify your LLC and apply the proper taxes. An EIN is also commonly referred to as a Federal Tax Identification Number.
You can get your West Virginia LLC’s EIN through the IRS website, by mail, or by fax, but if you’re unfond of dealing with that particular government agency, we can get it for you. Our EIN service is quick and eliminates the hassle.
When you apply for your West Virginia Business Registration Certificate (see the next step), the State Tax Department will establish a tax account for your LLC. They’ll provide you with the appropriate tax reporting forms so you’ll know which West Virginia business taxes you’ll need to pay.
Once you’ve secured an EIN, you’ll be able to open a business bank account. Having separate accounts for your business and your personal banking is critical for sorting out your finances at tax time and helps you avoid commingling funds.
Commingling funds can not only make your taxes more difficult but it could also be used against you if someone takes you to court to challenge whether you and your LLC are truly separate entities.
We offer a discounted bank account for your new business. This allows for unlimited transactions, online banking, a debit card, and more. When you want to authorize others in your business to use the account, we offer a banking resolution template to simplify the process.For further help managing your new business’s finances, try ZenBusiness Money. It can help you create invoices, receive payments, transfer money, and manage clients all in one place.
Apply for a West Virginia Business Registration Certificate. After completing your registration with the West Virginia Secretary of State, but before conducting business in West Virginia, you must obtain a Business Registration Certificate from the State Tax Department for your LLC. You can file an application through the Business for West Virginia Online Portal. You can also file via mail by completing and sending a BUS-APP form to the Tax Commissioner at:
West Virginia State Tax Department
Tax Account Administration Division
Registration & Account Correction Unit
P.O. Box 2666
Charleston, WV 25330-2666
The state charges a small registration tax, which will need to be submitted at the time of filing for your certificate. There’s an additional fee when you file through the online portal.
At ZenBusiness, we believe every aspiring entrepreneur should have the tools and support necessary to create a business, which is why we’ve made it easy with our free LLC service. We handle the complexities of starting an LLC in West Virginia, while you focus on your business. Along with LLC formation, we provide Worry-Free Compliance services and more to help keep your business in good standing. With expert support on hand every step of the way, we have what you need to run and grow your business effortlessly.
So, whether you’re starting an IT firm in Charleston or a furniture store in Morgantown, join the hundreds of thousands of businesses we’ve helped launch. Contact us today to get started.
ZenBusiness is a financial technology company and is not a bank. Banking services provided by Thread Bank; Member FDIC. The ZenBusiness Visa® Debit Card is issued by Thread Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Your funds are FDIC insured up to $250,000 through Thread Bank; Member FDIC.
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The state fees for forming a West Virginia LLC range from $130 to $220, depending on factors such as whether you choose to reserve your business name, get a DBA, etc.
Note that fees change over time, so you should check the West Virginia Secretary of State website for the most recent fee schedule.
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.
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.
You can form your West Virginia LLC by mail or in person, but it’s faster and easier to do so online. Filing online takes approximately five to 10 business days, while processing by mail takes considerably longer. The West Virginia 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.
West Virginia has options for expediting your filing for an additional fee. The options are 24-hour, two-hour, and one-hour filings.
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.
By default, LLCs are considered “pass-through entities,” meaning that the business itself typically doesn’t pay federal income tax on its profits. The responsibility to pay income taxes falls only on the individual. This differs from most corporations, where profits are taxed twice, first at the business level and again at the individual owners’ level.
Single-member LLCs don’t have to file a separate federal return for their LLC. They report the LLC income on their personal income tax return (Form 1040). LLCs with more than one member (owner) must file a separate information federal return for the LLC, Form 1065. Then each LLC member reports their share of the profits on Schedule K-1 and attaches it to their own personal federal tax return.
Although LLCs are taxed as sole proprietorships or general partnerships by default, LLCs also have the option to be taxed as corporations. Some LLC members choose to classify their businesses as an S corporation or a C corporation for tax purposes, which can be advantageous for certain LLCs.
In particular, many LLCs elect to be taxed as S corporations because, in some cases, it can save the members money on self-employment taxes. You can find out more on our “What Is an S Corp?” page.
You also have some other forms of federal taxation to keep in mind. For example, you’ll likely need to pay self-employment taxes on your share of the LLC’s profits. These are the taxes that go toward Social Security and Medicare. Fortunately, LLC members can deduct half of the self-employment taxes paid as a business expense.
When it comes to state income tax, West Virginia taxes an LLC’s income the same way it’s chosen to be taxed by the federal government. If an LLC chooses to be taxed as a corporation, it’ll need to pay the state’s corporate income tax.
West Virginia also charges a small business registration tax on all businesses. 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.
For more information on what your LLC’s tax responsibilities will be, contact the West Virginia State Tax Department and your local tax authorities.
By default, LLC owners only pay state and federal taxes on their personal income from the LLC. The LLC isn’t separately taxed.
Some LLCs (particularly those with high earnings) may choose to file taxes as either an S corporation or a C corporation. These options can have some advantages for certain LLCs. You can learn more about how these methods of taxation compare on our LLC vs. S corporation and LLC vs. C corporation pages.
Taxes are too complex to adequately cover in one article, so we always suggest getting advice from a qualified tax professional.
No, West Virginia doesn’t allow a Series LLC. This business structure has one main LLC under which multiple LLCs can be organized in order to shield each from the liabilities of the others.
You’ll need to make sure your West Virginia LLC has all the licenses and permits it’s required to have by law. Chief among these is the general business license West Virginia requires all businesses to have. This license is also known as the Business Registration Certificate we covered in Step 6.
This likely won’t be the only license and/or permit your LLC will be required to have. Unfortunately, because licensing varies by industry and location and can occur on the federal, state, and local levels, there’s no central place to check to see if you have all the licenses and permits you need. You’ll have to do some research.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to do all this research, or if you just want the peace of mind to know that your business has all the licenses and permits it’s legally required to have, our business license report service can do the work for you.
Your West Virginia LLC will need to file an annual report each year, which is due by July 1.
We can help you with your West Virginia annual report in a couple of ways. Our annual report service will help you file your annual report, and our Worry-Free Compliance service not only helps with filing your annual report but also helps you with two amendment filings each year.
In addition to following the rules set forth in your operating agreement, you must file an Articles of Termination form with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office to dissolve your West Virginia LLC. There’s a fee involved to complete the process.
For more information, visit our West Virginia business dissolution guide.
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.
Written by Team ZenBusiness
West Virginia Business Resources
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