Washington Startup

If you're registering a Washington startup, look no further—we've got information on corporations, LLCs, sole proprietorships, and foreign corporations to help you make your decision. (Remember: It's important to make this decision with input from your legal counsel.)

Washington Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is a type of DBA. It is the simplest type of business; it consists of a sole proprietor doing business under another name.

A Washington sole proprietorship must complete a Master Business License and submit it to the Secretary of State's office in Olympia, and it is also responsible for obtaining any city business licenses required for its industry and location.

Washington Corporation

Forming a Washington corporation creates a new, separate legal entity. Its owners are protected from debts or obligations of the business by something called limited liability, which is provided by the corporate structure.

In order to register a Washington corporation, your business should file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State's office.

Washington Foreign Corporation

If your business has already registered in another state, but you plan to do business within the state, you may be required to register as a Washington foreign corporation. You must fill out the appropriate application and submit it to the state, along with the filing fee.

If the name of the foreign corporation is unavailable in Washington, the foreign corporation must apply to do business under a different name in the state.

Washington LLC

An LLC is a business entity that is similar to a corporation in that is exists perpetually and provides limited liability protection to its owners ("LLC" stands for "Limited Liability Company"), but it can choose to be taxed as a partnership, a corporation, or an individual, depending on how many members (or owners) it has.

An LLC is considered a pass-through entity; it experiences no corporate tax, and its profits are taxed at the individual level when distributed to the owners. (This is comparable to the tax structure of an S corporation, a special type of corporation.)

Washington Nonprofit Corporation

A nonprofit corporation in Washington is formed for purposes other than financial gain for the shareholders. It is formed by filing nonprofit Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State.

Eligible nonprofits (those that are formed for certain purposes, including religious, charitable, or educational) may apply to be treated as a tax-exempt nonprofit by applying to the IRS for 501c3 status. Acceptance of this application will allow the organization to accept tax-deductible donations and enjoy reduced postage.