Limited liability companies give business owners the legitimacy and asset protection they need to operate, and owners must comply with state law to enjoy these benefits. While state policies vary, almost all LLCs have to file an annual report with their state of operation.
Annual reports are short documents that provide updated information about your business, including the name and address of the LLC, the people who run it, and its registered agent. By keeping this information up to date and learning how to file an annual report for LLCs, you can stay compliant and ensure your business runs smoothly.
What is an annual report for an LLC?
Annual reports for LLCs are required in some states to remain in good standing and legally operate. Annual reports list an LLC's basic legal information, members, and activities from the previous year. While they don't contain comprehensive financial details, they help measure a company's performance.
Note: Some states do not call their documents annual reports. Instead, they use another name, like a statement of information. In cases where reports come due once every other year or once every 10 years, businesses file biennial reports (due every other year) or decennial reports (due every 10 years).
What is the purpose of an annual report?
Annual reports provide data on business operations for investors and outside analysts. In addition, companies submit annual reports to their state to operate there legally.
What information goes in an annual report?
Most annual reporting covers financial data, recent activity, and owner activity. States requiring that businesses file a company annual report may ask for extra information. Depending on your state, you may need to include:
- Your company's legal name
- The fictitious name your business uses, also called a DBA
- The principal business address in the state
- The registered office address
- The names and business addresses of managers and shareholders/members of the company
- All important identification numbers for your business, such as your state entity number and EIN
- The purpose of your business
- A list of authorized signatories
- Your registered agent information
Who needs to file an annual report?
If your business exists as a separate legal entity, you must file an annual report. The following entities must file to stay in good legal standing:
Depending on state policy, these entities may need to file an annual report:
- Sole proprietors
Tip: To find out whether your state requires an annual report for your type of business entity, visit the state's website where you filed your organizational documents. Alternatively, you can review the annual report table lower on this page.
How to file an annual report
To file an annual report, you'll need to learn about your state's requirements. Even if it sounds daunting, most states streamline the process. The filing process generally looks like this:
1. Learn your state's requirements and the basics
Each state creates its own annual report standards and practices. Depending on where you operate, specific report requirements may change, such as:
- The due date
- Any filing fees
- The required information about your business
Check out your state's business filing website for more information about your LLC renewal requirements. It will explain when reports are due, how much it costs to file, and how you can submit your report.
How often are annual reports due?
Contrary to their name, not all states require annual reports once a year. Some states require that you submit a report yearly, while others have a biennial or even decennial filing process.
The report may be due on the anniversary of your business' formation, or your state may have a single due date for all reports. Other states require you to file an initial report within a specific period after your business' formation. Research your state's guidelines for your business type to learn how often you must submit a report.
2. Complete the annual business report forms
After learning the annual report requirements, business owners must complete a form. They can do this in a few easy steps:
- Obtain annual report forms. Some states mail forms to businesses or their registered agent. In other cases, businesses must download the form online or request it from a state agency.
- Provide all the information your state requires. While some states only need a list of member names, business addresses, and registered agent details, others want more from businesses. Consult your registered agent or an attorney to stay on top of requirements.
- Have all LLC members sign off on the form. For a single-member LLC, only the sole proprietor needs to sign off. For multimember LLCs, all owners must certify the document.
To ensure the information on your report is accurate, you can include or cross-reference other documents:
- Financial reports: documents including balance sheets, cash flow reports, and financial projections
- Report on risks: forms that lay out financial risks to your LLC and how you'll avoid them
- Executive summary: a document outlining all key financial and legal information about a business
3. File your report in your required state
Once you've completed the form, you must submit it to the state along with any required filing fee. Submission options vary by state, but most states:
- Allow you to fill out and file your annual business report electronically through the filing agency website
- Require you to print the form from a state agency's website and mail it to its office.
- Send the report to an LLC's registered agent. After completing the forms, the agent will send them back to the state.
To maintain your business' registration and good standing in more than one state, you may have to file annual reports in each state you operate. To do this, you'll need to repeat the same procedure you used to file in your home state. Check with the secretary of state's office in your state for details.
4. Prepare for your next annual report deadline
Keeping up with your business' financial and legal requirements is much easier if you set yourself up for success year-round. Some states charge hefty fees to businesses that miss the filing deadline or file using outdated or incorrect information. Additionally, failing to file a report can jeopardize your good standing with the state.
- Set up a reminder system for upcoming due dates on your calendar or another tool
- Keep an eye out for any policy changes around annual reports to stay compliant and avoid mistakes
Annual report best practices
Help make your annual report filing process smoother by following these tips:
- Prepare for fees and extra costs
- Factor in franchise taxes
- Amend your report if you find errors
Prepare for fees and extra costs
While some states provide a free filing process, that isn't universal. States like California charge $800 to submit your annual report. In cases like these, you should budget for your report in advance.
Factor in franchise taxes
Franchise taxes are a fee states impose on businesses for the privilege of operating within their borders. For example, California may level franchise taxes on a company based in Nevada with locations in Los Angeles. Some states require you to pay franchise taxes or other business taxes when you file the annual report.
Amend your report if you find errors
After submitting your report, you may need to make an important change. If your LLC changes its business information or you made a mistake on the report, you need to amend it. To file an amended annual report:
- Review your original form to determine the necessary changes. Did you misrepresent a figure, change managing principals, or move to a new location?
- Obtain the report from the secretary of state where you operate. Check to see if you need an amended report form or can reuse the original. If you have to reuse the original, write “amended" up top for reference.
- Get signatures from all members certifying the form is correct.
- Pay the annual reporting fee. Some states make exceptions for amendments or charge less.
Avoid annual report penalties and fines
Failing to submit your annual report or submitting a report with errors can lead to fines and penalties. The most common annual renewal mistakes include:
- Incomplete report submissions
- Incorrect payment methods or fee amounts
- Execution errors, such as failing to sign or date the report or having an unauthorized person sign
- Failing to send your annual report or filing late
You can avoid penalties by staying on task and handling your annual business report well before it's due. All LLC members should check the report for mistakes before submitting it. You can have an attorney review the form to be extra sure you're in compliance.
Annual report considerations by state
Every state has annual report requirements. Some states require them for all types of business entities, and others don't require annual reports at all. Some require reports for certain types of business entities but not others.
Certain states impose particular guidelines businesses need to keep in mind. We'll break down some state-specific processes below:
Do I have to file an annual report for LLCs in New Jersey?
Unlike other states, New Jersey requires that all businesses file an annual report. This report focuses on your registered agent and address, ensuring both are up-to-date. The state also requires a $75 filing fee with each submission. Businesses must submit their report by the last day of the month they completed their business formation.
Businesses that don't file for two years in a row may have their charter voided. The state may also revoke its ability to do business in New Jersey.
How do I file an annual report for an LLC in North Dakota?
North Dakota policy requires that business owners submit their LLC annual reports by mail or the FirstStop service. FirstStop is a software platform that handles business and licensing tasks for the Secretary of State. Companies can file online with a credit card payment or mail their report with a check or money order payable to the "Secretary of State."
The state requires businesses to submit their report and a $50 fee by Nov. 15. If a business files after that date, the cost jumps to $100.
Do I have to file an annual report for my LLC in Mississippi?
All limited liability companies operating in Mississippi must file an Annual Report with the secretary of state. Businesses can file any time between Jan. 1 and April 15. Unlike other states, Mississippi requires that owners file online. Domestic LLCs file for free, but corporations must pay $25.
How do I file an annual report for an LLC in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin sends an LLC's registered agent annual report forms before the deadline. From there, a business can file its report by mail or online through the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). Foreign LLCs need to send in their reports via mail.
Do I have to file an annual report for my LLC in Florida?
In Florida, LLCs, corporations, limited partnerships, and limited liability limited partnerships must submit their reports by May 1. The state levies a $400 late fee for businesses that don't file in time. Florida will dissolve companies that ignore or fail to pay the fee by the third Friday in September.
Florida businesses must file through the SunBiz website. Companies operating in Florida receive a 12-digit document number after starting an LLC in Florida. Businesses file their report using this number as their ID in the SubBiz database. LLCs will receive this number after registering their business in Florida.
Turn annual report compliance into excellence
Ensuring your annual report meets its legal criteria does more than dodge fines. Annual reports allow you to take stock of your business and reassess your goals. By properly learning how to file an annual report for your LLC.
Writing an annual report isn't hard, but staying on top of deadlines and requirements can be challenging—especially if you do business in more than one state. An annual report service can help you fill out your report correctly and on time.