You did it. Your Montana LLC is officially up and running, ready to take on challenges, roll in the profits, and change the world.
There’s no doubt that this is an exciting time in your business journey. After starting your LLC, it’s easy to get carried away in all the excitement and expectations. After all, as a new business owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate.
But the state does too. They need to keep updated records on thousands of businesses so that they can effectively reach out with any important tax or legal communications down the road. How do they do it? With your cooperation, of course.
In Montana, an LLC’s annual report consists of two parts: a Franchise Tax and a Public Information Report. Each LLC must submit these filings to the Montana Comptroller every year to keep their information current. Unsure how to go about it? Never even heard of it? No worries at all. That’s why we’re here. Keep reading for everything you need to know.
For brevity’s sake, we’ll refer to these two combined filings as the “Annual Report” in this guide.
What is the Montana Annual Report? Why is it Important?
Consider an Annual Report the state’s yearly checkup on your LLC. It’s similar to a census in that its purpose is to collect the necessary contact and structural information about each Montana business.
Each state has its own annual reporting requirements, and some don’t even require them. But in most states, you’re required to submit one per year that includes your LLC name, principal office address, registered agent information, and member/manager names and addresses. Whether you run a domestic or foreign LLC, you should plan on submitting an Annual Report.
Don’t be intimidated, but it’s not something you want to take lightly. This is how the state updates your LLC’s record with the most recent information. They need to know how to reach you with important information about your business status, upcoming filings, taxes, and service of process.
For example, if you change your registered agent, or your current agent resigns, you’ll need to keep the state informed so they can update their contact information. Miss one of their communications and your LLC in Montana might end up falling out of good standing or, even worse, administratively dissolved.
Moreover, keeping your information current will help other businesses and potential customers find you. Anyone can find your LLC information by performing a name search, so consistently updating your information allows people to contact you.
How Much Does the Montana LLC Annual Report Fee Cost?
If you’re putting together a budget for all your LLC’s costs – like formation costs, name reservation fees, and initial operating expenses – it’s important to include annual filings like this one, just so that there are no surprises.
Costs vary from state to state. Some are free while others can be several hundred dollars. In Montana, your Annual Reports won’t break the bank, as they’re only $20 each. Still, you’ll need to pay this fee every year, so be sure to set aside $20 in your budget.
Due Date and Frequency for an Annual Report in Montana
You likely already have April 15th marked on your calendar because it’s the deadline for tax filings, and you can add “file Annual Report” to your to-do list for that day. All Montana businesses must file their Annual Reports before April 15th, but not before January 1st.
Your LLC’s first Annual Report will be due the calendar year after you first file your Articles of Organization. So, if you formed your LLC in March 2018, your first report wouldn’t be due until April 15, 2019.
What Happens if You Don’t File?
You might be thinking, “that sounds like a pain. How bad could it be if I just fly under the radar?” The short answer: don’t try it. Failing to file your Annual Report can yield some serious consequences.
But things happen, life gets busy, and maybe the April 15 deadline slips your mind. In this case, your Annual Report would incur a $15 late fee, so it would cost $35 in total. If you still haven’t filed by 5:00 p.m. on November 28, the state will dissolve your LLC on December 1. For foreign LLCs, you have until October 31 to file a late report before the state dissolves your business.
We’ve covered all the basics and now it’s time to dig into the details. Before you file an Annual Report, you should know what you’re up against. Here’s the information it requires:
- LLC name
- Registered agent name and address
- Principal office address
- Whether the LLC is managed by members or managers
- Name and address of each member or manager
That’s all! You might even know this information off the top of your head. And the nice part is that if nothing has changed from the prior year, you can simply confirm everything and be on your way. Even if you have to make changes, the form doesn’t take long at all.
The Montana Secretary of State no longer accepts paper filings, so you will need to submit your Annual Reports online. To do so, search for your business using its name or Business ID number and select your LLC from the results. Click the button that says “File My Annual Report” and you’ll see your business information. If you don’t need to make any changes, you can simply check the confirmation boxes and hit submit.
But if some of your business information has changed, click “Login to Change the Information.” At this stage, you will need to create an ePass account if you don’t already have one. After logging in, make the necessary changes and hit submit. The Secretary of State will process your submission within 1-2 business days.
Does the State Send Reminders?
Reminders are always nice. They help you stay on top of your business requirements and ensure that you won’t fall out of good standing.
The Secretary of State will mail a reminder to your registered agent and email reminders to your business email address in the months leading up to the April 15 due date. Still, we think it’s a good idea to set up your own system of reminders, just to be safe. Do whatever works for you, whether it’s writing notes in your planner, setting alarms on your phone, or anything else.
Can I Hire a Service to Handle it?
You probably have a full plate as it is, and the thought of adding one more responsibility to your to-do list might make you shudder. You’re not alone.
Plenty of other LLC owners have outsourced their reporting duties to LLC services. These companies will take the entire process off your hands, handling your Annual Report each year. If that piques your interest, we recommend ZenBusiness, which is an experienced and trustworthy LLC company.
But their services aren’t restricted to forming an LLC or managing Annual Reports. They can also help you form your business, draft an operating agreement, handle registered agent responsibilities, and much more, all for a reasonably low price.
If thinking about your LLC responsibilities ties your stomach in knots, let ZenBusiness take some of those worries off your plate.
There you have it, everything you need to know about Montana’s reporting requirements. Follow this guide to a T and your LLC will be prepared to operate smoothly and in good standing long into the future.
And remember, if at any point it seems overwhelming, you’re not alone. A good LLC service like ZenBusiness (or LegalZoom) can be a valuable resource, taking care of all the little details, so you can focus on growing your business.