As 2017 comes to a close, it's time to make sure you don't have any legal or financial loose ends that will set back your LLC or corporation in the New Year. It's also time to get your ducks in a row for 2018.
What do you need to do to ensure your year is neatly wrapped up and what should you be planning for as time marches forward?
Relax! I’ve got you covered with the following checklist.
1. Submit your end-of-year filings before December 31
These might include:
- Report company changes to the state. If you’ve altered your business name, changed your business address, had a member of your board of directors leave, or authorized more shares of your company to be sold, you must submit an “Articles of Amendment.”
- Review tax payments before the end of the year. One of the worst surprises come tax time is to discover you were way off on your tax payments throughout the year. Before this year’s end, review your financial reports (ideally, with an accountant or tax professional) to determine whether your tax payments have been sufficient to cover your tax obligations. Depending on what you learn, you might want to adjust your final estimated tax payment for the 2017 tax year to offset any overpayment or overpayment. Deadlines are December 15, 2017 for corporations and January 18, 2018 for sole proprietors, partnerships, and LLCs taxed as such.
- File an annual report by year-end. In many states, LLCs and corporations must file an annual report. You’ll want to check with your Secretary of State office to check on the frequency that applies to you. Sometimes they are due every year, every other year, or on some other interval.
- If your business is inactive, close it before January 1. If you have ceased operating your business and have no intention of restarting or selling it, you should consider dissolving it (after talking with your attorney and accountant, of course). If you don’t formally close your business, you’ll enter the New Year subject to paying taxes, obtaining licenses, and filing reports even though your company isn’t actively running. States require either “Articles of Dissolution” or a “Certificate of Termination” before they’ll consider your business as closed.
2. Hold your annual meeting before 2017 comes to a close.
Haven’t gotten around to holding your annual meeting yet for 2017? Get it done! Also, remember to write minutes to capture who attended, what was discussed, and decisions that were made. Obtain the signatures of your members or shareholders to document their approval.
3. Change your business structure if you know it will benefit to you.
Just because you began your business as a particular business entity type, doesn't mean it needs to stay that way ad infinitum. If you’ve considered (and talked with your attorney and accountant about) forming an LLC or incorporating your business, you can start 2018 off fresh and new by registering your new business structure with an effective date of January 1, 2018. In most states, if you file your formation paperwork after December 17 in 2017, your new business entity will consider it effective on January 1, 2018. With the year winding down, time is of the essence, of course. To get the documentation done accurately and as soon as possible, think about enlisting the help of a trustworthy online business document filing service.
4. Renew business licenses and permits in the New Year.
Many businesses need one or various licenses and permits to legally operate in their state or locality. Some require renewal. If you have licenses and permits for your business, contact your state, county, and municipality to find out which need to be renewed and by what deadlines.
A Toast to Being Ready for the Year Ahead
Planning, preparation, and staying organized are key when tackling the business formalities required of your company. If you need guidance, seek the help of experienced professionals (such as attorneys, accountants, and tax advisors). And to save time, money, and hassle, consider using an online filing service that can help you prepare and submit your registration and compliance documents. By meeting your legal and financial business responsibilities by year-end and getting a jumpstart on your obligations for 2018, you’ll have the peace of mind and freedom to concentrate on making the new year your most successful ever.