The first decision in forming a new business requires choosing the legal business structure to form - sole proprietorship, corporation, limited liability company, etc. The business structure you choose influences everything including daily operations, taxes, and how much of your personal assets are at risk. Changing a business structure after it has been established can be very time consuming and costly involving multiple application procedures and various filing fees, so be sure to plan accordingly when making your decision. The structure you choose will depend on various factors, such as:
Visit the following links to learn more about the various business structures and their features:
The lists below include the possible business structures from which to choose when forming a business and the state agency through which the business must initially be registered. When a business entity forms through the West Virginia Secretary of State, it must also complete a business registration with the State Tax Department.
West Virginia State Tax Department
West Virginia Secretary of State
Unsure which business structure to choose? Use the Secretary of State's New Business Startup Wizard to help guide you in the right direction when selecting a business structure to suit your business needs. The Office of the Secretary of State can advise you on the type of business structures available, however, we cannot advise you on which structure to form. The wizard is not provided to offer professional legal or tax advice. We strongly recommend you consult with a certified public accountant, corporate attorney and/or qualified business registration agent who specializes in registering businesses before deciding the business structure to form.
Another excellent resource for business start-up information and assistance is the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Many of their services are provided at no cost to the public and they specialize in coaching and mentoring new business applicants throughout the life of the business. For more information or to speak with a business specialist, visit West Virginia SBDC online or call 1-888-WVA-SBDC (1-888-982-7232).
In some cases, you may be required to obtain special licenses before you register your business. For example:
Before engaging in business activity in West Virginia, every individual or business entity must obtain a West Virginia business registration certificate from the State Tax Department. Business activity is broadly defined. Learn more about the requirements by visiting the West Virginia State Tax Department Business Registration.
It's important to know the tax calendar due dates associated with the filing frequency assigned by the West Virginia State Tax Department. This way you'll be prepared and can plan accordingly.
West Virginia has changed some of the due dates for the filing of returns by corporations, partnerships and composite returns to reflect some of the due date changes made at the federal level. These changes are effective for returns filed for tax years beginning after December 31, 2015. Review the highlights of the changes here.
The following is a list of business activities that require registration or licensure with the West Virginia Division of Labor.
With the exception of those companies that qualify for an exemption, every employer engaged in commercial construction or the severance, production or transportation of minerals (excluding railroads and water transporters) in West Virginia must post a wage bond with the Division of Labor to protect the wages and benefits of its employees. For more information, visit the Wage Bonding page. Email WageandHour@wv.gov or call (304) 558-7890.
Any business operating in WV servicing or installing weighing or measuring devices to be placed back in service for legal trade must have accurate and traceable standards and certify that each agent who performs work is trained in the applicable area of expertise. They are also required to notify the Division of Labor’s Weights & Measures office within 24 hours of servicing or conducting repairs to devices. For more information, visit the Weights and Measures page. Email Weights@wv.gov or call (304) 722-0602.
Any business operating in WV servicing or installing elevators may be required to obtain a contractor license. For more information, visit the Contractor Licensing page. Email: Licensing@wv.gov Phone: (304) 558-7890.
If employing elevator mechanics, those employees must obtain an elevator mechanic license. For more information, visit the Elevator Safety page. Email Safety@wv.gov or call (304) 558-7890.
Any business in WV operating amusement rides & attractions or zipline and/or canopy tours must acquire a permit for each attraction, canopy tour, ride or zipline from the Division of Labor and have them inspected before initial operation and on a yearly basis. For more information, visit the Amusement Rides and Attractions or Zipline and Canopy Tour page. Email Safety@wv.gov or call (304) 558-7890.
All manufacturers, renovators and sterilizers of bedding and/or upholstery materials are required to register with the Division of Labor. For more information, visit the Bedding and Upholstery page. Email Weights@wv.gov or call (304) 722-0602.
Looking for qualified employees for your business? Or perhaps you're needing to file Unemployment Compensation for your existing employee base? The place to begin your search is WorkForce West Virginia, the one-stop center for all your workforce resource needs. Employers can post job listings, search for qualified employees, analyze labor market information, locate business services and register their required unemployment compensation account.