By Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com
It seems that 2013 is just whizzing by, and though we are rapidly approaching the end of the year, most small business owners are still staring at hefty ‘to-do’ list. It is extremely important to keep all elements of your business compliant and in good standing with the state – otherwise you might find yourself having to spend a lot of time and money getting everything in order. As a general reminder, here are a few of the most common filings and tasks that your business needs to complete in order to stay in good standing.
Did you file your annual report and, if you need to, have an annual meeting?
If you run a sole-proprietorship or a partnership, you don’t have to worry about filling out an annual report or holding an annual meeting. Annual reports, also known as statements of information, are used to keep the state’s information about your corporation or Limited Liability Company up to date. LLCs and corporations are seen as separate legal entities, so the government needs to know basic information like where your business is located and who runs it. Keep in mind, however, that laws governing LLCs and corporations vary from state to state. Some states only want a statement of information filed every couple of years, and a handful of them don’t require one at all. Check with your secretary of state’s website so you know exactly what needs to be filed by when, and how much you have to pay to file your report.
Only corporations are required to have annual meetings, and you do not have to file the minutes from these meetings with the state, though you do have to keep them on hand in case the government asks to see them. Try and hold your meeting at the same time every year, and make sure that your shareholders are informed of when the meeting will take place. They don’t all have to come, but everyone does have to know when the meeting is held.
Did you renew your DBA/Fictitious/Trade name?
If you do business under any name but your own, you have to have a Doing Business As name. DBA names allow you to open up business bank accounts, receive checks made out to your business and, in some cases, are required if you wish to advertise your services under your business’s name. It’s important to make sure your DBA registration does not lapse. Like with annual reports, regulations vary from state to state. Texas, for example, only requires you to renew once every ten years. Many other states, however, make renewal an annual requirement. So, again, make sure you know what is required by the state you do business in and, if you need to, renew your DBA name as soon as possible.
Have you determined your estimated tax payments?
Hopefully the answer to this one is a resounding yes, because the last payment was due September 16th! Anyone who is self-employed and expects to owe more than $1,000 when they file their return must make quarterly estimated tax payments. Corporations that expect to owe more than $500 must do the same. Typically, these are due the 15th of April, June, September, and the next year’s January. However, depending on when your fiscal year starts, these deadlines can shift to the fourth, sixth, ninth months of, and the first month following, your fiscal year. The fees for grossly underpaying or missing deadlines can be steep, so make sure you know how much you owe, and when you owe it by – the IRS provides a worksheet for figuring out how much you will owe.
It is all too easy to forget about deadlines, filings, and paperwork while running your business. However, the penalties for missing those filings can be steep, and might even result in the dissolution of your company. So stay on top of your annual requirements, file what needs to be filed, and pay what needs to be paid. A little bit of effort now can save you from having to deal with a lot of stress later on.
About the Author:
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.