You did it. Your Washington 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 Washington, 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 Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington 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 access your LLC’s contact information through a business name search, so keeping this information updated will ensure that future partners, clients, etc. can reach you.
How Much Does the Washington 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. Fortunately for you, Washington’s annual reporting fee isn’t a huge expense. It’s just $60 whether you file online or using a paper form.
Due Date and Frequency for an Annual Report in Washington
As the name suggests, you must file one Annual Report each year. It’s due by the last day of your LLC’s anniversary month (the month you initially formed it). So, if you formed your LLC on June 18, 2018, your Annual Report would be due by June 30 every year after that.
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.
Fail to file your Annual Report on time and you’ll incur a $25 late fee. Plus, if you go 120 past your due date, the state may administratively dissolve your LLC. At that point, you would need to file for reinstatement, which costs an additional $140.
We’ve covered the basics, so now it’s time to nail down the details. If your LLC’s anniversary month is approaching, you’ll want to start preparing for your Annual Report filing. Here’s the information it requires:
- LLC name
- Unified Business Identifier (UBI) – You can find this on your LLC’s online record
- Principal office address
- Mailing address (optional)
- LLC member or manager names
- Nature of business
- Registered agent name and address
All of this information is easily accessible, and you might even know it off the top of your head. Once you’ve collected everything, you should be able to breeze through the filing.
Got your information? Then you’re ready to file, and you have three options. The easiest is filing online, but you can also submit your Annual Report by mail or in person.
Online Filing: Start by going to the Secretary of State’s Corporations and Charities Filing System page. From here, you have a few options. If you have an account, you can log in and access your Annual Report from there. But you don’t need an account to file. You’ll also find two buttons, one that says “Express Annual Report Without Changes” and another that reads “Express Annual Report With Changes.” Neither of these options requires you to sign in. Once you finish your digital Annual Report and enter your credit or debit card information, you’re all set! Your filing will be processed immediately.
Filing by Mail: If you prefer a paper form, you’re in luck, because the Secretary of State also has a hard copy Annual Report. Download and complete it, then include your payment and send it to:
Corporations and Charities Division
PO Box 40234
Olympia, WA 98504-0234
Filing In Person: Live near Olympia? You’re also welcome to hand-deliver your form to the physical office at 801 Capitol Way S.
Typical processing times for hard copy filing is 10-12 business days. If you’re in a hurry and that’s not quite fast enough, you can pay an additional $50 for expedited processing – 2 business days for mailed forms or the same day for in-person ones.
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 a courtesy reminder 45 days before your LLC’s Annual Report due date. We think it’s a good idea, however, to set up your own system of reminders closer to the deadline, just to make sure 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 Washington’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.