You did it. Your North Carolina 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.
Every year, your LLC must submit an Annual Report to the North Carolina Secretary of State to keep your 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.
What is the North Carolina 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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina 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. If the Secretary of State has the most updated data on record, anyone – including future clients and business partners – can find your business by performing a name search.
How Much Does the North Carolina 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. North Carolina’s reports are $200 ($202 if filing online). This isn’t a negligible amount, and you’ll be paying it every year, so be sure to include it in your annual budget.
Due Date and Frequency for an Annual Report in North Carolina
After the state approves your Articles of Organization, your LLC is officially up and running! To keep it in compliance, you will need to file an Annual Report once per year by April 15th, the same as tax day. Your LLC’s first Annual Report is due the calendar year after your formation year. So, if you started your business on March 18, 2018, your first report would be due on 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.
If April 16th rolls around and you haven’t yet filed your Annual Report, there’s no late fee, but this doesn’t mean there are no penalties. If you haven’t filed an Annual Report within 60 days of this deadline, the state may dissolve your LLC.
We’ve laid the foundational knowledge, and now it’s time to dig into details. When you go to file your Annual Report, here’s the information you’ll need to provide:
- LLC name
- Principal business address
- Registered agent name and address
- Name and address of each member or manager
That’s it! If you don’t already have this information top of mind, you can easily access it on your Articles of Organization or through the Secretary of State’s business entity search.
Whether you like to do business electronically or leave a paper trail, you have an option for the North Carolina Annual Report. The Secretary of State accepts reports online, by mail, or in person, so you can choose the route that works best for you.
Online Filing: Start by searching for your business name on this page. Find the correct one from the results and click “Annual Report.” This will take you to a page where you can find all of your prior reports or select “File Most Recent Annual Report.” You’ll be whisked away through a series of pages where you can enter or change the appropriate information. When you’re finished, enter your credit or debit card information, and you’re done.
Filing by Mail: This process begins the same way as filing online. Search for your business name and find your LLC on the list of results. When you find it, instead of choosing “Annual Report,” click on your business name and then select “Print a Pre-Populated Annual Report Form” from the top of the page. Make sure to update any new information and fill in any black spaces. Then, include a check or money order for $200 and send it to:
North Carolina Secretary of State
P.O. Box 29525
North Carolina 27626-0525
Filing In-Person: If you live in Raleigh or happen to be passing through, you can also drop it off at the physical office located at 2 South Salisbury St. Raleigh, NC 27601-2903.
Note: If you are changing your registered agent, you must file by mail or in person.
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.
To help you out, the Secretary of State will send you a reminder a few months before your Annual Report is due. But sometimes that April 15th due date can sneak up on you, so you’ll probably want to set your own reminders closer to the actual deadline. Use a planner, your phone, a calendar, Post-It notes, or anything else that will ensure you don’t forget.
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 North Carolina’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.