Maria Young Published

Warner: Five Minutes And $25 To Check Off Important To-Do For Business Owners Statewide

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Businesses owners can go online before June 30, 2024, to update information and file their annual reports on the Secretary of State's website.
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There’s a deadline looming for businesses across the state, but tens of thousands of them still haven’t filed their annual reports as required by state law. 

Maria Young sat down this week with Secretary of State Mac Warner – who’s hoping all of them get the job done by Sunday night – just not all at once. 

Maria: Thank you for joining us, Mr. Secretary. Let’s start with – for those who don’t own their own businesses and don’t know – what exactly are these reports?

Warner: This is a requirement by state code that there’ll be a repository of all the businesses in the state. This is for our citizens. They want to find an address or find out who an officer is of a particular business or corporation, there may be a lawsuit and you want to file service or process on a business. This is the one place you can go. It’s our website, And so we keep track of just about 150,000, businesses, nonprofits and charities. 

Maria: It doesn’t sound like, you know, these are not like paying your taxes. So there’s not potentially, or arguably, a benefit to waiting until the last minute.

Warner: There’s no benefit. Just, the deadline comes up at the end of June. So we are in the last week of this. But if you miss this deadline, which is midnight on Sunday, then we have to impose a $50 late fee. And until you pay that, then you’re in non compliance. And the significance of that is, let’s say you’re in a business deal, say closing in on some real estate or getting a bank loan, and they want to know that you are in compliance, you are a legitimate, legitimate business in West Virginia. They will check that website. If it shows non-compliance, then the red flags go up. 

Maria: Sure. So you mentioned roughly 150,000 businesses registered across the state with your office. How many have filed at this point? 

Warner: We just went over 60 percent, just in the last day or so. And that is, like I said, slightly better than last year. So we’re not too concerned. But we, still, 40 percent of businesses still have to report.

Maria: That’s an awful lot of companies out there. So if everybody waits until 11:58 p.m. on Sunday, June the 30th, is that going to be a problem?

Warner: It may be. That’s why it’s good that we’re talking about it, so people do it as they think about it this week, as they hear about it.

Maria: If you’re doing business with somebody and happen to check and see that they’re out of compliance, should that be a red flag? 

Warner: It should be a red flag, and you should then ask them why they’re not in compliance. And that’s what we want to avoid. The one thing that I would like to bring up is, there is no need for a third party involved. You don’t need to pay somebody else to file this for you. It’s like you can pump your own gas, why pay somebody $100? So you can do it yourself. What we’ve typically seen year after year is a company, typically out of state, that sends you a letter that looks very official, like it’s a government letter when it’s really isn’t. And then they charge $125 to do it for you. And we just want to, it’s not necessarily a scam, but it’s, it’s taking advantage of people. And so I would say, don’t be taken advantage of. Just go right online, fill it out yourself and join the 98 percent of the people that do do it online. If you want to do it by paper you can fill out the paperwork and send it in. But it’s kind of like an absentee ballot. It has to be postmarked by June 30. And if it’s not in, the late fee will apply. 

Maria: Sure. That sounds relatively routine and not terribly complicated and you’re just hoping folks will, you know, check that box and get on to their next list of things to do, is that right?

Warner: That’s absolutely correct.