Starting an LLC in Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts: 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 Massachusetts. 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 Massachusetts will require from you:
- Legal name of the business
- Federal employer identification number
- Year of the filing
- Principal address for the business
- Address where your LLC’s records are kept (if different)
- Name and address of your registered agent
- Nature of the business
- Name and address of each member/manager
- Name and address of each person who can execute documents for the LLC
- Name and address of each person who can make decisions & sign documents involving property
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?
When the time comes to file your annual report, your gut might tell you to head to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website. And that’s a good instinct. But it’s a big website. Specifically, you’ll want to head to the Corporations Online Filing System. There, you can file the report entirely online.
If you’d rather file a paper copy, you can download the pdf and fill it out. Once it’s complete, you’d need to mail it back into the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
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 Massachusetts 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 the Massachusetts 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. Massachusetts, however, has one of the most expensive annual report fees. The base fee alone is $500. But if you file online or through fax, the state will charge a $20 convenience fee. So the fee can be as high as $520.
How you file your annual report will affect how you pay your fee. If you file by mail or fax, you’ll need to pay using a check or money order. But if you file online, you can use a credit or debit card to pay the fee. With either method, be sure you have the funds in your account to make the payment.
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. But in Massachusetts, the annual report fits its name; you’ll file every year.
More specifically, Massachusetts LLCs will need to file their annual reports on their anniversary date; that’s the day you filed your Certificate of Organization. So if you filed on May 5th of this year, you’d need to file on or before May 5th next year.
If you don’t file on time, the state will tack on an additional $25 late fee to your total cost.
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.
Compared to the state’s annual report fee, the $25 late fee might seem like pocket change. But the extra money isn’t the only risk. Failing to file your annual report on time can cost you your good standing in the state. If your report is delinquent for long enough, the state will dissolve your LLC. Long story short, they’ll shut down your business by force.
If that happens, don’t panic; you can get reinstated. But it’s a hassle to do so. It’s much easier to simply avoid the hassle completely by filing on time each year. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money.
Maintaining a Massachusetts 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.