When it comes to business, even the most successful entrepreneurs and corporations need to be accountable. This accountability appears in the form of the annual report, also known as “10-Ks”.
An annual report is an essential tool for engaging with shareholders because it provides a transparent picture of the company’s financial standing. They’re also an opportunity for companies to give back to their communities by telling them how they’re giving back and what they hope will happen in the future.
What is an annual report?
An annual report is a formal document that details the financial and non-financial performance of the company. Many companies have their website, so they publish this information on their official website.
The report includes most of the information you want to know about a business (website URL, contact info, documents, etc.). The annual report is also available in PDF format for those who would like to view them offline.
An annual report provides shareholders and other stakeholders with an opportunity to review how the company is doing. It is a detailed account of financial information, an explanation of the business, a description of past accomplishments, and further plans for growth. The goal is to maintain confidence in the company’s future performance.
How to get one?
If you’re a shareholder, you can easily find the annual report on the company’s website. Many companies offer this report online in PDF format. The most recent 10-Ks, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), can be found on the SEC’s EDGAR database.
For those who prefer to view their information in hardcopy, a copy of the annual report is available through Investor Relations at most significant companies.
Who should read an annual report?
Readers include owners, investors, corporate executives, and employees. The reader should have specific business experience and knowledge to get the most out of the annual report.
Some people who read an annual report are business owners interested in learning how other large businesses operate. Others are investors, insurance companies, and government agencies such as the IRS and SEC.
Advantages and disadvantages of the annual report?
As with any other form of business, a limited liability company (LLC) should be accountable for its financial performance. The annual report provides valuable information to owners and investors about the company’s activities and the focus areas.
Since LLCs do not have to issue an annual report like partnerships or corporations, limited liability companies may find it easier to avoid reporting, which can sometimes be a problem for some companies.
Advantages of the annual report:
- Transparency. An annual report can provide you with insight into the company’s activities and focus areas.
- Accountability. An annual report is a form of responsibility, which is something that owners, investors, and employees will appreciate.
- Financial information. Disclose critical financial data about the company’s activities and income to help readers assess profitability and business performance.
Disadvantages of the annual report:
- Stealth mode.
- Confidentiality. Financial data is often deemed confidential by some companies, which is why they might not be willing to disclose it in their report. Some companies may find that submitting annual information compromises the secrecy of the business.
What does the annual report tell you?
Different annual reports have different purposes. For example, some companies want to focus on their business’s negative things in past years, while others want to focus on what they have accomplished. These companies may have different strategic objectives that they want to achieve.
Therefore, their annual report may contain different information than those of other companies in the same industry.
The information in the annual report is on the company’s financial statements and other non-financial data. This information includes:
- Identify the company’s revenues, expenses, profit, and loss (including net income).
- Identify critical financial and accounting policies used in preparing financial statements (profit margin, depreciation, interest rate hedge).
- Identify the company’s assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity.
Cash flow statement:
- The movement of cash in the business. Sources of money for acquisitions or investments.
Other periodic reports:
- Include the company’s other periodic reports ( 10-Qs, 8-Ks, etc.).
- The report includes the most recent and detailed financial information provided by the company. Some of the data is included for the benefit of shareholders, while other information is helpful for investors searching for specific trends that could affect its price.
- Include information on how the company is doing.
- Include information on the company’s strategy. This information will help you as a shareholder decide how you feel about the business and whether you want to invest more time and money in the company. If you’re not a shareholder, this information can help determine where you spend money wisely.
How do annual reports differ?
There are several types of annual reports, some of which include different content than others. For example, companies tailor yearly reports for different audiences.
A company’s annual report may include:
- Independent auditor’s report. The audit of the company’s financial statements and any other information. The auditors also review business operations and internal controls over financial reporting to determine whether they comply with GAAP. They also provide a statement on whether any adjustments should be made. In addition, the auditors will comment on whether the company’s internal controls have been adequate and whether they are operating effectively.
- Stockholder letter. The company’s chief executive officer (CEO) or chairman will write a letter to shareholders, informing them what they think about the company and how they’re doing. They may also discuss any goals that they’ve set for the company in future years. The letter is an opportunity to put a human face on the company and provide more details about its financial performance.
- They consolidated financial statements. These are the most comprehensive financial statements of a company because they include all information relevant to its performance in a given period. They are prepared using generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
How to File Annual Reports
Annual reports are filed electronically. All of the required information is put in an electronic format, later converted into a printed format. If your company requires you to file paper forms, you must correct the electronic version into those forms. Ensure that you’re meeting all requirements, keep accurate records, and comply with all filing deadlines.
Amidst online giants such as Google and Amazon, many small businesses do not promote their annual financial reports due to insufficient resources (both financial and personnel). However, you are required to have an annual report if your corporation is a publicly traded company. If you are among this group of people, you should check your state’s specific regulations regarding your annual report.
In most states, the requirement of publishing your annual report is mandatory for all publicly traded companies. Although it is voluntary for non-publicly traded companies, it is still a good practice to post it to show everybody the company’s progress and how well they’re doing (if they’re doing well).
What are my payment options to file the annual report?
The online provider can charge you a flat fee, e.g., $10,000 to submit your annual report, or it can set you an hourly fee, which can go up to hundreds of dollars per hour. The costs associated with the different payment options and the number of pages in your report will depend on its complexity and the size of your annual report.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to gather the necessary information to make sure that you’re getting a good deal for your submission. It means that you need to ensure that you’re going for a reputable provider; the online provider you choose should be able to charge a flat fee for the report or at least a discounted rate.
These are the different ways in which you can pay for your annual report.
- Free submission. You can find providers who offer free annual report submission by checking online directories, contacting local business associations or state securities authorities, etc. Although the name suggests that this option is entirely free, you will still have to pay a fee, which will be taken from your corporation’s earnings at the end of the year.
- Online submission service at a set price. You pay a fixed fee each year and only pay for the actual use of the service. The costs vary depending on the state, the number of pages, and the complexity of the report.
- Flat fee. You pay a flat fee each year and not a predetermined amount every year. For this, you will have to find an online provider that offers this option.
- Hourly submission rate—the simplest way to make sure that you’re getting a good deal. The hourly rate can range from a few cents to a few dollars per hour. You can use online directories for this provider.
- Subscription. You pay an annual fee or sign up for a subscription. This provider will do the entire cost of filing your annual report in your accounting software for each account. The prices vary depending on company size, type of business entity, and the number of pages you have in your annual report.
- Purchase report. You purchase the service, making sure that you’re getting a good deal. For example, if you’re paying $50 for your annual report and the online provider charges $300 for it, you must clearly understand what you’re purchasing. Often, these companies will also provide support in other areas of your financial records, and these costs can start adding up.
- Find a partner. If you’re not sure how to go about calculating the best way to file your annual report, most online providers have partners who will handle the process for you. For this, you have to contact them directly.
Possible ways to pay
You can pay for your LLC annual report:
- By credit card.
- By debit card.
- Wire transfer.
- Check by mail. If you do this, make sure you also send a copy of the form by certified mail.
- Through your accounting software. Most online providers will integrate with the most popular accounting systems out there (QuickBooks, Sage, Microsoft Dynamics GP, etc.), and they’ll provide you with step-by-step directions on how to complete the filing process for your LLC annual report. Most online providers also offer support in all areas of your financial records, and if you need help, you can contact them, and they will do it for you.
Annual Report Reminders
- Business owners should remember that their state and local governments can impose fines and other penalties on companies that fail to file your annual report.
- If you are unsure whether or not your corporation is required to file an LLC annual report, you should check with the state in which your business is registered. You may be required to file a form even if it’s not mandatory.
- Most states require corporations to submit an LLC annual report within 60 days of the end of the fiscal year. Although it is not needed, you should also submit your info on time to avoid receiving a late fee.
- To file a timely annual report, an officer of the corporation will have to submit all required information from the latest tax return and other outstanding words (if there are any).
- If you are unable to complete your annual report yourself, you may need help from a professional. This expert can help you with the entire process and assure that everything is submitted correctly.
- The information that you provide in your annual report is used to assess the health of your business, as well as to set the state’s tax rate in the following year. Although it is not required, you should provide a certificate of good standing from your Secretary of State with each annual report.
- You should also include a management discussion and analysis (MD&A) section that describes the health of your business as well as:
- Many states require companies to submit LLC annual reports to maintain their status. The information you provide in these reports is used to ensure that your business follows the rules and regulations set forth by the state.
- To ensure that you are not missing any of these reports, you should check with your state’s Secretary of State’s office to see which ones are required for your corporations.
- Each state will have different requirements for annual reports, so it is a good idea to pay attention to the needs of each year’s report.
Due Dates for Your LLC Annual Report
Different states will have other dates for when you need to submit your annual report. Reports are due to various dates depending on the type of business entity you have, what state you are located in, and how often you submit your annual report.
Annual reports for limited liability companies:
a. January 15
b. March 1
If you fail to file an annual report, your corporation will be considered dissolved. Once your corporation is dissolved, you cannot use this business structure in the future. Additionally, you will not be able to conduct any further business transactions under its name.
You must remember to file all of your LLC annual reports on time. You may not realize that there are severe consequences for failing to do so.
Because of the importance of these reports, you should include a reminder in your monthly calendar.
Remember to keep copies of all annual reports that you submit. You will need to offer them in the future if you choose to use this business structure again.
What happens if I don’t file the annual report?
If you fail to file an annual report, your corporation will be considered “dissolved” (this means that your business structure is eliminated). This means that you are no longer allowed to conduct business activities under the name of your corporation. Additionally, the formation of another corporation in the future will not be possible.
- Liquidation of the company may occur.
- The corporation is shut down, and the state will transfer all assets.
- The IRS may seize any property held by the LLC or apply a tax deficiency tax upon the assets.
- The state may recover profits made by the company without any penalty if adequately notified.
If my business has closed, do I still need to file the annual report?
For some corporations, you will not need to file a report after they have closed. Such corporations include:
- Corporations that were inactive for at least 60 days during the year (the number of days that your corporation was idle increases by 20% each year)
- Corporations that were terminated or dissolved during the previous calendar year
- Corporations created solely to transfer your business operations to other owners through a merger, stock acquisition, or other transaction
- Corporations that were exclusively formed to close a business (“Breakup Corporations,” “Buy-Sell Corporations”).
- Corporations where shareholders have agreed to merge into another business entity.
Can I make changes when I file my annual report?
Yes. There are certain things that you can do when you are filing an annual report. In addition, the state in which you file your annual report will have different rules for changes to your corporation.
For example, some states allow you to make changes when filing an annual report, while other states require that you file a new yearly report after making changes.
The main types of changes that you can make are:
- Change the names of directors and trustees (required in most states)
- Change the location of your business (may be required in some states)
- Change the corporation’s fiscal year.
- Change the name of the corporation.
- File a separate annual report in a different state
- Make any other changes that are relevant to your corporation (for example, you may update your articles of incorporation)
- Specific rules for publicly traded corporations (for example, you may incorporate new stocks or transfer shares of stock)
There is no set price for filing an annual report. However, you should expect to pay $200 or more for the filing fees unless your corporation chooses to file a “phantom” annual report. In that case, you have to pay the total amount due within 20 days of receiving the notice that your corporation must file a yearly account (much more on this later).
If your corporation has undergone administrative dissolution, expect to pay at least $50.00.
The annual reports can vary from $20 to more than $1,000, depending on the corporation and the state.
Beware Fraudsters Offering Report Filing Services
As you may already know, many fraudulent companies offer to file your annual report. You mustn’t use such “services.” Instead, file the information yourself.
It is easy to determine if the person offering report filing services is a fraudster by looking at the following conditions:
- The service costs only a few hundred dollars (that is much lower than what most corporations have to pay)
- The person offering the service never talks to you in person or over the phone.
- The person offering the service provides information that is inconsistent with your corporation’s state records (this includes inconsistencies with corporate documents and financial statements of information)
- The person offering the service suggests a new way of filing your annual report.
- The person offers services that are not approved by your state (for example, incorporating a new type of corporation)
- The person offering the service does not send your file for processing (this is required for every corporation unless you order a “phantom” annual report)
In summary, we have provided you with the general rules for filing an annual report.
There are some other things that you can do to make your account even more complete. We have also provided some of the rules that each state must follow when filing an annual report. Still, you must consult a professional who has experience filing a yearly notice for corporations in your state.
This is because the state where you file your annual report may have additional rules not covered in this article.
In addition, different states have different rules regarding the information that you can include in your annual report. It is crucial that you thoroughly review the laws in your state to be sure that your corporation is following all of the relevant regulations.
The information provided here represents general guidelines (which change depending on the state) and may not match your corporation’s experience filing an annual report.