Starting an LLC in California is not for the faint of heart. Maintaining one isn’t, either. There’s a bunch of annual requirements: annual taxes, business licenses to renew, and of course, annual reports. A lot of the annual requirements can be pretty complicated, too.
Annual reports can be pretty complicated…but only if you don’t know what to expect. That’s what we’re here for. In this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials to annual reports in California: LLC filing fees, where to file, due dates, and if you want, where to go to get help filing. By the end, the annual report won’t feel so daunting anymore.
What is an annual report?
An annual report is a lot like an annual newsletter for your LLC—except you only send it to one place: the state government. Each year, the state needs updated information about your business. And this isn’t a requirement that’s unique to California. In fact, nearly every state requires some form of annual (or similar timeline) update.
That said, the newsletter analogy falls short because you don’t need to tell the state what you did each month. You don’t even have to tell them the highs and lows of your year. And thankfully, you don’t have to write it out as a letter. All you’ll have to do is fill out the requested information.
Here’s a quick glance at the information California will require from you:
- Legal name of the business
- Your 12-digit file number (provided by the Secretary of State)
- State or county where you formed your business (if your business is a foreign LLC)
- Street address for your business
- Mailing address for your business
- Name and address for each member/manager
- Name and address for your registered agent
- General type of business conducted by your LLC
- Name of primary leader or officer for the business
Sound overwhelming? Don’t panic. It’s actually a lot easier than you might think! In the rest of this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials to annual reporting—including a DIY approach and how to get help if you’d rather not file on your own.
Where do I start?
First off, before we go any further, we should note that the state of California technically doesn’t call this filing the “annual report.” Instead, California calls it the Statement of Information. But technically, the two terms are interchangeable. For the bulk of this guide, we’ll refer to this as an annual report.
In California, you can file online or by mail. If you opt for mail-in filings, you’ll need to download and complete Form LLC-12. It’s also important to keep in mind that all annual reports, once filed, are accessible by the public. The forms will not request any truly confidential information, and you should never include it yourself.
Quick note: if you haven’t already, California requires you to file an initial Statement of Information within 90 days of forming your LLC.
The annual report isn’t extremely difficult to fill out, honestly. But if you’re extremely busy (and who isn’t these days?), the report can seem overwhelming—it’s yet another thing you have to do. That said, you can hire a California LLC Service to handle the work for you. Not only will these services actually form your business for you (if you need it), but they’ll also help you handle annual requirements like the annual report.
How much does California’s Annual Report cost?
Some states have a pretty hefty price tag of several hundred dollars for their annual report. Other states charge more reasonable fees of less than $100. California keeps things even cheaper: the annual report will only cost you $20 each time you file. How you choose to file will also affect how you pay. Online filings must pay with a credit card. If you file by mail, you can pay with a check, money order, or cash (in-person filings only).
When is the Annual Report due?
In most states, the annual report is due, well, annually. In other states, entrepreneurs often refer to it as an annual report even though it’s due every other year. And in California, how often the annual report is due depends on your entity type. For LLCs, the “annual” report is technically biennial; you’ll file it every other year. More specifically, you’ll file on even-numbered years only.
Every time an even-numbered year rolls around, you’ll need to file the annual report by the end of your LLC’s anniversary month. So if you formed your LLC on June 6, you’ll need to file by June 30.
If you don’t file on time, you might get hit with a $250 late fee.
What happens if you don’t file your annual report?
Sometimes annual check-ins are a pain, right? And we get it: with some things, like annual physicals, dental cleanings, and eye appointments are tempting to skip. Usually, there isn’t a big penalty if you skip them for a year or two (aside from a minor scolding from your doctor).
However, that isn’t the case with annual reports. You should never skip filing your annual report, and you should always do it on time. For one thing, filing on time ensures that you don’t spend any more than you have to.
More importantly, though, failing to file your annual report on time can cost you your good standing in the state (plus incur that hefty late fee). If your report is delinquent for too long, the state could dissolve your business by force.
If that happens, don’t panic; you can get your LLC reinstated. But it’s a big hassle to do so. It’s much easier to just file your Statement of information on time each year. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money.
Maintaining a California LLC is no laughing matter, and the annual report is without a doubt one of the most important annual filings. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be too complicated. Hopefully this guide has helped take out some of the guesswork. And don’t forget: an LLC Service can make things even easier.