Starting an LLC in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania: 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 Pennsylvania (although Pennsylvania has a very unique approach to the report). 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 Pennsylvania will require from you:
- Legal name of the LLC
- Email address or mailing address for returning the filing
- Registered office address or registered commercial office address
- New registered office address or registered commercial office address (if changed)
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 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 Department of State’s website. And that’s a good instinct; the Department of State handles a wide variety of business filings, reports included.
The easiest way to file your report is PENN File, the state’s online filing portal. It requires an account, but other than that, it’s straightforward (plus it’s faster than paper filings). But if you’d rather file by mail, you can do so by downloading the pdf, filling it out, and mailing it into the Department of State.
Quick note: you’ll probably notice pretty quickly that the state’s forms don’t list an annual report. Instead, there’s a listing for a decennial report. That’s the form you want. We’ll cover this in more detail later, but Pennsylvania doesn’t require a strict annual report; instead, they require one every ten years. Hence the name: decennial report.
For the rest of this report, we’ll call it the decennial report just to keep things consistent.
The decennial 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 Pennsylvania 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 reporting.
How much does Pennsylvania’s Decennial 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. You might think that with such an infrequent filing, Pennsylvania might charge a hefty filing fee. But they don’t; in fact, Pennsylvania charges just $70. So technically, they have one of the most affordable report fees in the entire country.
How you file your report also affects how you’ll pay. If you file online, make sure you have a credit or debit card on hand to wrap up the filing process. But if you mail in a report, include a check or money order in the envelope with your report.
When is the Decennial 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 like we’ve mentioned earlier, Pennsylvania’s report is unique because it’s only due every ten years.
That said, you won’t file the report exactly ten years after you formed your LLC. Instead, you’ll file it in years that end with a “1.” For example, we’re writing this guide in 2021; all Pennsylvania LLCs have to file their decennial report at some point this year—even if they formed their business in 2019. The next filing year won’t be until 2031. As long as you file at some point during the “1” year, your report will be on time. So in a way, the due date is December 31st (but we recommend tackling it early just to be on the safe side).
What happens if you don’t file your decennial report?
Sometimes regular 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 decennial reports. You should never skip filing your decennial 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.
Pennsylvania takes a unique approach to late reports. They don’t charge a late fee; instead, if you don’t file your report on time, the state will revoke your exclusive rights to your LLC’s name. In some cases, that’s not a big deal—maybe no other business will try to claim it. But if someone does claim your name, you could lose all the name and brand recognition you’ve built up.
Loss of name rights is a big hassle to deal with (even if no one claims it out from under you). It’s far easier to file your report on time every ten years and avoid the hassle entirely.
Maintaining a Pennsylvania LLC is no laughing matter, and the decennial report, even though it doesn’t come around often, is one of the most important regular 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.