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With more new business owners choosing to go the Limited Liability Company (LLC) route when structuring their business, it’s no surprise that the demand to be able to file online has increased. Accordingly, the West Virginia Secretary of State office has made it possible to complete almost every step of the process through an online business portal. This shaves days – maybe weeks – off the time it takes to get a business up and running. Here’s how to make use of the Internet to file your LLC “paperwork” in West Virginia.

Name the Business

name-llc-3Coming up with and registering your business’s official name is practically the same in every state. The bottom line is that it must be different than every other name already registered in the state business name database. Luckily, determining what is already in use is as easy as hopping online and perusing the list. If you’re not completely ready to file your LLC paperwork yet but have a name in mind you don’t want to lose, the state allows you to reserve it for 120 days at a cost of $15. Should you decide to take this option, the Application for Name Reservation must be sent in by postal mail. This is the only step that makes use of snail mail.

Registered Agent

The next step is to file Articles of Organization but first you need to make a critical decision. Who will you list as the registered agent for your new company? A registered agent is a person (or other business entity) with a physical address inside the state who is appointed to receive legal papers in the event your company is sued. The requirement is that the agent must be a resident of West Virginia or a foreign or domestic corporation or LLC licensed to do business in the state. Now you’re ready to move on to filing the Articles.

Articles of Organization

The Articles of Organization are the founding documents of your LLC. This multi-page form is required to be filed the the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office before you can begin doing business. Besides identifying a registered agent, other information called for in the Articles are the name address of each organizer, the effective date of formation, date of dissolution (unless perpetual), the purpose, and whether or not members assume responsibility for company debt. The Articles can be filed online at Business4WV for $100.

Tax Requirements

tax5Before engaging in the selling of any good or service, a business must register with the state for a tax license. Feel free to file online using the same website as indicated above for filing your company’s Articles of Organization. The tax license gives you permission to sell goods, collect sales tax, and remit it back to the state. Depending upon where your business is physically located within the state, you may need to acquire a city and/or county license as well.

You may also need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This no-cost filing becomes a necessity if you have more than one member in your LLC, plan to hire employees, or elect to have your business taxed as a corporation. The EIN allows the federal government to track your FICA payments.

Annual Report

No annual report is due in the calendar year in which you create your LLC, but you should file one every year thereafter at some point between January 1 and June 30. The filing fee for this report is $25. The easiest way to meet this requirement is file online at Business4WV.com. In case you like to forget these things, the Secretary of State will either snail mail or email a reminder in January.

The LLC structure has become popular for small business owners in recent years because it combines the pass-through tax structure (if elected) of a sole proprietorship and the asset protection of a corporation into neat, easily managed bundle. If you don’t fully understand how an LLC works, get in touch with a legal or tax professional who can explain the ins and outs to you. While it’s not impossible to change a business tax structure after formation, it can be a hassle; it’s preferable to get it right the first time.