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Secretary of State to Delay Late Fees for Business Owners Filing Annual Reports Following Tornado

Charleston, W.Va. — Secretary of State Mac Warner is announcing that he will delay certain late fees for business owners who must file their 2019 Annual Report beyond the July 1st deadline due to the state’s network being down following recent bad weather in Charleston. For a business to avoid the $50 late filing fee, the annual report must be postmarked or submitted online by 11:59 p.m. by no later than July 3, 2019.

All 117,000 for-profit, charity and non-profit entities conducting business in West Virginia are required to file an annual report with the Secretary of State's Office. The deadline to file that report is normally July 1st of each year.

Earlier this week, the state Capitol complex was closed due to tornado-like weather that knocked out electric service to the Capitol and other buildings. The loss of electricity affected businesses’ ability to file their annual reports online and in person. The state’s Office of Technology has worked diligently to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, but the Secretary of State recognizes that the down time may result in some businesses filing their annual report late.

"Under the circumstances, it is in the best interests of the state for my office to allow filings without penalty beyond the July 1st deadline to accommodate those businesses who may have tried to file their annual reports when our website was not operable and the Capitol was closed," Secretary Warner said.

The usual annual report filing deadline is July 1st of each year, and those filing after the deadline are assessed a $50 late fee in addition to the $25 annual report fee.

"We are here to help business owners stay compliant with the registration process and deadlines," said Penney Barker, director of the Business & Licensing Division. "We never enjoy having to assess a late fee."

Over the last two years, the Secretary of State's Office has made substantial improvements to the user-friendly nature of the website with a particular focus on the ability for business owners to file annual reports online. Business owners can file online 24-hours a day. For online filing assistance from a business & licensing specialist, citizens also have access to a "chat" feature which allows a business owner the ability to interact with a specialist without having to call in by telephone.

To file an annual report online please visit the WV One Stop Business Portal.

"Thousands of business owners file their annual reports in the last week of the filing period," Barker said. "Those who call in by phone this time of year may experience long wait times. We now have a very popular ‘call back’ feature which allows a member of our staff to call the business owner back without them having to hold for extended periods of time."

According to Barker, the office would prefer that all businesses file their annual report online. However, filing by mail is still an option for business owners. To avoid the late fee, annual reports must be filed online by 11:59 p.m. or via U.S. mail postmarked, both by no later than July 3, 2019.

Those wishing to contact the WVSOS Business & Licensing Division can do so by calling (304) 558-8000.

The Secretary of State's Office will announce next week the final day for businesses to file their annual report without late penalty assessments.