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Does Wisconsin Require a Business License?

There are many tasks you need to complete when you are preparing to start a new business. Of the many things you need to do, one of the essential parts of opening a business is to obtain a business license. Most jurisdictions require some type of license based on the type of business you have. A business license is a document that ensures you meet the requirements for operation. If you operate without the proper licensing, you could be fined or forced to close your business. It is essential to understand the requirements for a business license in Wisconsin.

State Business License

Some states administer business licenses on a state level. In Wisconsin, there is no statewide requirement for a business license. Instead, local municipalities oversee business licenses. There are some types of businesses that do require state licensing. These licenses are for specialty types of businesses that often include some type of certification or training. These licenses are handled by various departments within the Wisconsin government. Some of these include the Department of Agriculture, Department of Safety and Professional Services, Trade and Consumer Protection, and Department of Health Services.

Business Tax Registration

All businesses that operate in Wisconsin must obtain a seller’s permit. You must register your business with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. The state of Wisconsin requires businesses to pay taxes. Businesses must also withhold taxes from employees and submit them to the state. You must sign up for a tax account with the Department of Revenue. You can learn more about the tax requirements on their website, or you may want to seek guidance from an attorney or accountant.

Local Business Licensing and Registration

Your city or municipality likely requires you to obtain a business license. Generally, to get a business license, you will need to fill out an application. You must supply some basic information, including the name of your business, the type of business entity it is, the address and phone number, and the Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number if you are a sole proprietor. You will also likely need a certificate of insurance.

You may be required to submit a business plan that includes your expected revenue and expenses. Check with your local municipality to find out the requirements and application process. The fees associated with a business license vary from municipality to municipality and also may vary based on the type of business that you have. Typical business license costs may range from about $100 to $400 on average. Generally, you will need to renew your business license yearly.

Federal Licenses or Permits

Your business may also require a federal license or permit. While most small businesses do not need a federal license, some types of industries do require them. Some industries that may require federal licensing include alcohol sales or distribution, firearms, transportation, fish and wildlife, mining and drilling, nuclear energy, broadcasting, and agriculture. Check with the Small Business Association for a list of industries that require permits or licenses.

Starting a new business can be easier and less stressful with help from a knowledgeable business attorney. Contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (608) 784-8310 or online to discuss your legal needs today.

Published April 8, 2024
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