Completing your North Carolina annual report may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to file your report on time and without any stress. Whether you are a new business owner or have been completing reports for years, we have all the information you need right here. Let’s get started!

What Are North Carolina Annual Reports?

Each year, you’ll need to file an annual report with the North Carolina Secretary of State if you own an entity type listed below:

  • LLC:  A limited liability company is a business structure that offers protection for your personal assets if your business faces lawsuits. For an LLC, your due date is April 15 of each year. Your fee for filing the annual report is $203 if filing online and $200 for filing by mail with a paper form.
  • LLP and LLLP: A limited liability partnership is similar to an LLC but must have at least two partners. Your annual report is due on the 15th day of the fourth month following your business’s fiscal year-end. Your fee to file the annual report is $203 if filing online and $200 for filing by mail with a paper form.
  • Banks, C-Corps, and S-Corps: Corporations are a type of business entity that offers shareholders protection from being held liable for the debts and actions of the corporation. Your report is due the 15th day of the fourth month following the day your business’s fiscal year ends. The fee to file your report is $23 online or $25 for a paper filing.
  • Cooperative Associations: An association with a board of at least 5 individuals that limits the personal liability of members of the cooperative, but only with respect to the cooperative’s debts. For more information, Section 54 of NC law covers cooperatives. Your annual report is due the last day of February each year to the NC Secretary of State Office and copied to the Marketing Division at the Department of Agriculture. Filing your report is by paper only, and the filing fee is $10.

What Information Do I Need to Keep For My Business?

Whether you are just starting up a new company or have a business that has been operating for a while, good record-keeping is essential to running your business.

It’s your responsibility to establish an effective system to store and maintain your business records. Some records will help you keep track of business details and plan for your business’s future, but Federal and state law requires others.

Here are some of the records you may legally need to keep to stay in compliance with Federal and North Carolina laws and stay ready for reports in the future!

Employee Records

Local, state, and federal laws require you to maintain extensive and accurate payroll and personnel records if you hire employees for your business.

  • Payroll. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, you must keep certain basic payroll records for three years for non-exempt (hourly) workers:
  • Employee identification data such as full name, Social Security number, address (including zip code), birthdate for employees younger than 19, gender, and occupation
  • Time and day an employee’s work-week begins
  • Hours worked per day and total hours worked for each week
  • The basis on which you pay employees’ wages (e.g., $9 per hour, $440 a week)
  • Regular hourly rate of pay
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time (non-overtime) earnings
  • Total weekly overtime earnings
  • Real wages paid per pay period
  • Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment

Certain records for wage computations—time cards, piece work tickets, wage rate tables, work and time schedules, and additions to or deductions from wages—must be kept for two years in paper form.

Payroll Records

Employers are also required to maintain payroll records under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (for businesses with 15 or more employees), the Americans with Disabilities Act (for companies with 20 or more employees), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (for companies with 50 or more employees).


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires companies to keep personnel records for one year. The documents that private employers must keep include:

  • Application forms submitted by applicants
  • Papers dealing with hiring, promotion, transfer, lay-off, or termination
  • Rates of pay and compensation
  • Tenure
  • Selection for training or apprenticeship

Additional records regarding vacation and sick time, as well as other attendance information, must be retained for three years. Also, you must keep benefit plan (retirement, health and wellness programs) documents for six years under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Tax Records

Although the business you are in affects the type of records you are required to keep for federal tax purposes, your books must show your gross income, as well as your deductions and credits.

In addition, you must keep supporting documents for purchases, sales, payroll, and other business transactions.

Specifically, you must retain documentation showing your gross receipts, inventory, expenses, and assets. You must keep these records for the administration of provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. Basically, you’ll need to keep these records until the period of limitations for that return runs out.

Generally, the period is three years unless you fail to report income, don’t file a return, or file a fraudulent return. In those cases, you may receive longer limitation periods. Also, you should keep employment tax records for at least four years after the tax is due or paid.

Injury Reports

For many businesses with ten or more employees, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires records showing work-related severe illnesses and injuries to be retained for at least five years.

Also, employers must complete and post a summary annually, even if no severe illnesses or injuries occurred during the year. Specific low-hazard industries are partially exempt from these requirements. 

The following illnesses or injuries are considered serious:

  • Work-related fatalities
  • Work-related injuries or illnesses that cause loss of consciousness, missed work days, work restrictions, or transfer to another job 
  • Work-related injuries requiring treatment beyond first aid
  • Work-related cases of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums

You’ll use specific recording criteria for work-related needlesticks and sharp injuries, medical removal, hearing loss, tuberculosis, and musculoskeletal disorder cases.

State Record-keeping Requirements for Business Entities

Although the information above regarding employee, tax, and injury records spells out what federal law requires, don’t forget to also comply with any North Carolina state and local record-keeping requirements.

State laws governing various forms of businesses, such as partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations, require that each of these types of businesses maintain certain records.

For example, a partnership must usually keep a current list of the partners’ names and addresses, the partnership agreement, income tax returns, financial statements, and other documents dealing with the business.

Similar requirements are typically in place for limited liability companies.

Corporations generally must maintain more extensive and complex records to comply with state law.

Licenses and Permits

Most businesses must obtain a license or permit to operate legally under local, state, or federal law.

For example, hairdressers and doctors require professional licenses, businesses that sell goods or services must obtain a sales tax license or permit, and some federally regulated industries, such as aviation, alcohol, or agriculture, must obtain federal licenses or permits.

Once you have obtained all the licenses and permits required for your type of business, you should retain them in your records, as you may have to show them on occasion.

How to File An Annual Report Online with the NC Secretary of State

The process to file your annual reports online is simple. The three easy steps include:

  1. Search for your business or company name on the Secretary of State website at sosnc.gov.
  2. Click on your business’s profile and then “File an Annual Report/Amend an Annual Report” at the top of the page.
  3. Click “File Most Recent Annual Report” and let the site guide you through your filing report.

For most LLC business reporting, you’ll need to provide a statement of basic information with the following:

  • Nature of your business and its mailing address
  • Name and street address of the designated registered agent (if you want to change this person, you’ll need to file a paper form by mail with the new registered agent.)
  • Principal office address
  • Names of company officials

How Can I Find More Help?

If you need help navigating the maze of record-keeping requirements under federal, state, and local law or have other questions about managing or operating your business, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced business attorneys at Hopler, Wilms, and Hanna!

Our experienced business attorneys can provide guidance to help you comply with your obligations and avoid fines and penalties. We work with businesses across the state and would love to help your business thrive in North Carolina!

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