You have big plans, but before your business can officially take off, you’ll need to make a bit of an investment.
And we’re not talking about renting office space or paying employees — before you sell a single product, there are startup costs associated with launching an LLC in West Virginia.
Make sure that you consider all the possible costs associated with starting an LLC. To help you out, we’ve compiled the most common West Virginia startup fees here.
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Overall West Virginia LLC Formation Costs
LLC Name Reservation Fee
You’re not required to reserve a business name as part of the LLC formation process. It’s completely optional. If you have a great name in mind but aren’t ready to start your business, consider filing a name reservation. It costs $15 and will hold your desired name for 120 days. If you’re ready to get your business off the ground, though, skip this step and go straight to the Articles of Organization, which will automatically register your name.
To clarify, most states don’t require name reservations, and they’re rarely necessary. If you’re concerned about someone else registering the name you want, you could opt to simply form your LLC instead of reserving the name.
Whether you reserve your business name or not, you should always perform a West Virginia business name search to make sure the name you want is available.
Articles of Organization Fee
This is the big one, the most important (and most expensive) form that you’ll file to start your West Virginia LLC. Filing the Articles of Organization will formally register your business with the state and allows you to do business in the state, so submit it as soon as you’re ready. At $100 to file online or on paper, it’s not cheap, but the good news is that this is a one-time filing, so you won’t have to pay this fee again.
The information required to file your Articles of Organization includes the official business name of your LLC, an indication that your business is a standard LLC or a professional LLC, your LLC’s principal office address, your LLC’s mailing address (if different), your LLC’s designated physical office address in West Virginia, the name and address of your registered agent, your business email address, your business website address (if applicable), an indication that you do or do not own other businesses in West Virginia, the name and address of your LLC organizer, the duration of your LLC, an indication that your LLC will be managed by its members or a manager, the names and addresses of your LLC members and/or managers, an indication that your LLC’s members are or are not liable for the company’s debts, obligations, and liabilities, the business purpose of your LLC, whether or not your LLC is a consumer litigation financier, whether or not your LLC is a scrap metal dealer, the effective date of your LLC formation, whether or not your LLC is a veteran-owned business, the date, and your name, title, phone number and signature.
Business and Professional Licenses
Even after successfully filing your Articles of Organization, you may need to take one more step before conducting business in West Virginia. Depending on the type and location of your business, you may need to obtain licensure from a state agency or city government. Landscape architecture companies, for example, must apply for licensure through the State Board of Landscape Architects, and chiropractors need to get a license from the Board of Chiropractic.
Additionally, cities and/or counties often have their own licensure laws. Check with the West Virginia Association of Licensing Boards website, the West Virginia Division of Labor website, and your local government to see which licenses your LLC needs.
What are some of the most commonly required business licenses for West Virginia LLCs? If your business operates in a regulated industry, you will probably need some sort of professional license to operate in compliance with state law. On the municipal level, things like alarm permits, building permits, and zoning permits are all very common.
LLC Formation Service
Starting an LLC in West Virginia can be a complicated and time-consuming process. If you want to spend less time on paperwork and more time planning your business, you might opt for an LLC formation service. These services take care of the registration process for you, so you don’t have to spend time on research, paperwork, and filings.
Most of these services (like LegalZoom and ZenBusiness) offer basic LLC formation services like Articles of Organization filing, tax consultations, and phone/email support for a flat rate, with options to pay more for premium packages with premium services like Employer Identification Numbers, Operating Agreements, operating agreements, and expedited filing.
Agent of Process (Registered Agent) Service
Appointing a West Virginia agent of process (more commonly referred to as a registered agent) is an important part of your LLC formation process. Your agent of process is responsible for handling sensitive legal and tax documents and keeping your business compliant with West Virginia business law. In short, you need an agent you can trust.
While you can be the agent of process for your own LLC, this puts pressure on you to keep up with business filings and potential legal disputes. Sometimes it’s better to hand off that responsibility to a professional. An agent of process service ensures that your annual reports and other forms are filed efficiently, saving you from the penalties of delinquent filings and the stress of having to do it yourself.
If you have questions or concerns about the LLC formation process or if it’s the best business structure for you, sometimes it’s best not to take chances and consult an attorney. They’re not cheap, but they can provide essential business advice, professional filing assistance, and peace of mind.
Some attorneys offer free consultations (usually 30-60 minutes) but will charge by the hour after that. On average, business attorneys charge between $150-350 per hour. Some will offer a flat rate for setting up an LLC, which can range from $500-2,000.
Cost variations depend on the experience and location of the lawyer. You will want to do some research to make sure that you’re finding a great fit for your LLC. A website like Avvo can be a huge help. It allows you to access a database of West Virginia business attorneys, so you can compare their locations, rates, and specialties, and make sure you’re making the right hire.
If you don’t want to go digging for your own attorney, we compiled the following list of highly rated business lawyers in West Virginia. All of these attorneys are primarily focused on the business world, they all receive five-star ratings from clients, and they all have excellent Avvo ratings.
- Tyler Haslam (also active in OH)
- Jeffrey Menoski (also active in OH)
- Drew Capuder
- Bruce Clark (also active in OH)
- Patrick Lane
Foreign Qualification Fee
This only applies if your LLC was formed in another state and is now expanding into West Virginia. Is this your business? If so, you must file an “Application for Certificate of Authority” rather than the Articles of Organization.
All foreign business entities are required to foreign qualify in West Virginia, or they could incur some pretty severe penalties. Avoid them by filing an Application for Certificate of Authority either online or with a hard copy. The fee for either method is $150, but like the Articles of Organization, it’s a one-time filing and payment.
LLC Annual Fees
Aside from all the startup costs for your LLC, there are also yearly maintenance fees to keep it in good standing, namely the annual report. The Secretary of State requires all LLCs to file an annual report between Jan. 1 and Jul. 1 each year. You can file online or by printing out and mailing a hard copy, and each report costs $25, so write that small fee into your annual budget.
Much like the Articles of Organization, West Virginia requires much more information for annual reports than other states. This includes the name of your LLC, the date of your LLC’s formation, the jurisdiction where you originally formed your LLC, your tax ID number, your LLC’s principal office and mailing addresses, the name and address of your agent of process, your business email address, the number of employees that work at your LLC, whether or not your LLC is minority-owned or woman-owned, the number of businesses you operate in West Virginia, whether or not your LLC employs veterans, and the names and addresses of your LLC members and/or managers.
For more information on LLC annual reports in West Virginia, check out our full article on this topic!
By default, LLCs are classified as “pass-through” entities on the federal level, meaning that they don’t file separate corporate tax returns. Instead, the individual owners/members report income and losses on their personal returns. The same goes for state income taxes.
But that doesn’t mean your LLC is completely off the hook. If it maintains employees, it will owe a Withholding Tax and an Unemployment Tax. Further, if your LLC sells merchandise, it will need to pay a Sales Tax and Use Tax. Register for these taxes online or by mail. There is a $30 registration fee.
It’s a little less common, but if you’ve set up your LLC to be taxed as a corporation it will be subject to the 6.5% corporate income tax. See the West Virginia Tax Department website for more information.
What if I Don’t Pay?
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Looking at all these fees, you might be thinking: how can I pay less? While you might be tempted to look for loopholes or find a way around them, this could cause you bigger problems in the future.
If you don’t file the appropriate formation documents — the Articles of Organization or the Application for Certificate of Authority — you won’t be able to start doing business in the state. And once your business is up and running, missing an annual report will incur a $50 penalty and cause you to lose your good standing with the state. Businesses without good standing cannot foreign qualify in most other states, apply for business loans, renew some professional licenses, and more. Fail to reconcile any missed filing or fee causing a loss of good standing within 60 days and the state can administratively dissolve your LLC.
Failing to pay taxes in a timely manner has its own set of penalties. For each month a tax is overdue, the state will add 0.5% of the total amount owed (up to 25%). If a tax is overdue because of “negligence or intentional disregard of rules,” the state will add 5% of the total amount owed per month (up to 25%). Read over this document on penalties and interest to learn more.
Planning Your Expenses
By now, your budget spreadsheet might be looking a little crowded, but have no fear! Most of these are one-time fees that you won’t have to worry about again. Plus, with all these on the books, there won’t be any surprise costs when you register an LLC in West Virginia.
Soon, you’ll have these fees behind you and you’ll be forging ahead, growing your business and earning profits. As you do, make sure to keep up with the few recurring fees — like annual reports — so your business doesn’t fall out of good standing.
Key Steps for Starting a West Virginia LLC
- The first step to forming a West Virginia LLC is to come up with a good name for your business. You’ll want to make sure the name you want is still available and hasn’t already been claimed by another business, so you’ll need to search the state’s business database to verify its availability.
- Next, you’ll need to choose your registered agent. While you can legally serve as your own registered agent in West Virginia, this role can actually be more of a hassle than you might expect. That’s why we always recommend hiring a reputable registered agent service that can handle the responsibility of this position on your behalf.
- The third step involves the preparation and filing of your Articles of Organization. You’ll need to fill out the paperwork and pay a $100 fee. Once the state processes this document, your LLC will be officially open for business!
- That’s not the end of the road for the startup process though, as you’ll also need to create an operating agreement for your LLC. There is no legal requirement for West Virginia LLCs to have written operating agreements, but it’s still an extremely important element of any LLC. The operating agreement is an internal document that outlines how your LLC will operate, and there are several aspects of this document that can prevent messy ownership disputes down the line.
- You will also need to acquire a federal tax ID number (also known as an EIN, or employer identification number). This is essentially a Social Security number for your business, as it is a nine-digit code used to file taxes, hire employees, open business banking accounts, and more.
- Next, you’ll need to register for any relevant taxes with the West Virginia State Tax Department, and also obtain all licenses and permits that apply to your business type. Keep in mind that, depending on the nature of your business, you might require licenses from the federal, state, county, and municipal governments.
Once you’ve finished all of these steps, you’re ready to operate a compliant business entity with the state of West Virginia!
Key Steps for Maintaining a West Virginia LLC
After you’ve completed all of the items in the previous section, you’ll need to focus on maintaining your LLC. The first step in this process is to open a business bank account. This will help you keep your business and personal expenses entirely separate, and it will also help immensely with your accounting and taxation responsibilities.
You should also keep detailed records of every financial transaction that takes place with your LLC. This means maintaining a file of invoices for every purchase and sale you make, along with information regarding your employees or contractors and the work they perform for your business.
As we already mentioned, annual reports are a key component of LLC maintenance in this state, and there are harsh financial penalties for delinquent reports. Additionally, you might want to hold an annual meeting to discuss goals and priorities for your LLC, although this is an optional step.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we wrap things up, let’s take a look at some of the most common questions we hear from readers regarding the LLC formation process in West Virginia.
What are the state business tax rates in West Virginia?
If your LLC is taxed like a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you’ll need to pay taxes on your business income at the state’s personal income tax rates (between 3% and 6.5%, depending on your income level). If your LLC is taxed like a corporation, you’re required to pay West Virginia’s 6.5% corporate income tax on your business revenue.
How quickly does West Virginia process LLC formations?
The Secretary of State should be able to process your LLC’s formation within 5-10 business days. If you’re in a hurry, you can pay an expediting fee to shorten your turnaround time: $25 for 24-hour service, $250 for two-hour service, or $500 for one-hour service.
How many small businesses are there in West Virginia today?
The state of West Virginia is home to nearly 115,000 small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that West Virginia is a great place to own and operate a small business.
What are the top small business resources and websites in West Virginia?
The West Virginia chapter of the Small Business Development Center is a great place to start, as they offer a wide variety of tools and resources for West Virginia LLCs. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s West Virginia District Office is another valuable resource, and the state’s small business resource page also has plenty of good info.
Should I form my LLC in West Virginia, or choose a state like Delaware or Wyoming?
Some people like to form their LLCs in states with favorable legal settings. For instance, Delaware is often seen as the most business-friendly state, as it has an entire court system that’s dedicated solely to business matters. As for Wyoming, this state has some of the most generous anonymity laws for LLC ownership.
However, for most people, your best option is to simply form your business in your home state. Forming in a different state can be a tremendous hassle, and it can add some unnecessary complexity to tax issues as well.
Cost to Start an LLC in All 50 States
We break down the LLC costs in detail in all 50 states. View all of our State LLC Costs guides below.