Starting an LLC in North Carolina 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 North Carolina: 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 North Carolina. 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 North Carolina will require from you:
- Legal name of the business
- Principal address of the LLC
- Name and address of the registered agent
- Names and addresses for each member/manager
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 each year, your gut might tell you to head to the Secretary of State’s website. And that’s a good instinct; the Secretary of State is exactly where you’ll go. More specifically, you’ll head to the Annual Report filing page. This webpage allows you to file online (easiest). But it’s also where you can download a pre-filled copy of the report to file by mail or in-person.
In North Carolina, there are merits to filing online or with a paper form. Online filings are more convenient, but they cost a couple bucks extra. Mail-in filings don’t have the convenience fee, but they usually take longer to process.
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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina’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. As a North Carolina LLC, you’ll need to budget for the annual report because the filing fee is pretty hefty: $200. That’s not the most expensive fee of any state, but it does rank right up there. Thankfully, if you’re planning for the expense, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
How you file your annual report will also affect how you’ll pay. If you file online (note that it’ll cost $202), you’ll pay using a credit or debit card. But if you file by mail or in person, you can pay by check or money order.
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 North Carolina, the annual report fits its name; you’ll file every year.
More specifically, you’ll file your report every year by April 15th. Most LLCs are already doing a lot of annual filings then (it is tax day, after all), so it is kind of convenient. Thankfully, the annual report isn’t nearly as complicated as other forms; it won’t add a ton to your workload.
One quick note: the annual report first comes due the year after you form your business. So if you started your business before tax day in 2022, you wouldn’t file until 2023.
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.
North Carolina doesn’t have late fees for late reports, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any consequences. If you go 60 days after April 15th without filing the report, the state can administratively dissolve your LLC.
Long story short, the state will shut down your business by force. If that happens, don’t panic; you can get reinstated. But it’s a big hassle to do so, so we highly recommend simply filing the report on time each year. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money.
Maintaining a North Carolina 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.