What You Should Know About the Annual Filing Scheme
This morning, I opened my mail and found a letter with no return address on the upper left corner. The envelope was postmarked in red and from zip code 33912, which turned out to be Lee County in Florida.
Clearly, this was not anything I should be concerned about. There was no return address and no indication it was regarding anything that had to do with my business, except for my company's name and address in the window. I typically throw those envelopes away because I get so many solicitations that I don’t have time to go through all the junk mail.
However, for some reason, that day, I decided to open that envelope. Inside was what appeared to be an annual filing notification from Connecticut. I say that because right under the title, it said “(Connecticut LLCs).”
Okay, that grabbed my attention. Upon reading the entire page, I noticed they showed a checkbox, and there was a request for $110.00. It clearly stated in the payment information section that the amount included the state and Workplace Compliance Service (WCS) processing fees.
Now, I know the Secretary of State fee is $20. I have been in business for many years and file my annual reports all by myself on the website. So, I knew something was up with this letter.
I did a little more digging and found an article written in 2015 by Matthew Kauffman from the Hartford Courant that talks about this very topic. Interestingly, the WCS tried this that same year.
According to the Commissioner of Consumer Protection, Jonathan Harris, “This scam attempts to collect money from companies that need to comply with a state reporting requirement. There is absolutely no value in responding to this fake mailing and we urge companies to ignore it; do not send payment.”
Connecticut and 15 other states were affected by this scam back in 2015. In fact, the notice requested $150 from business owners for the filing. In 2019, it is $110. Quite kind of them to lower their price.
Here’s the bottom line: It is important that you, as a business owner, keep your eye on emails, mail and other notifications and not always accept that a request for payment is a legitimate requirement. Scammers are growing in numbers, and you are a target. They know you are busy, and they know you are afraid of federal and state government agencies and will do anything to keep them off your back. DO NOT let them take advantage of you.
If you have any questions regarding your annual filings, call your Secretary of State or search your business on their website. Better still, enlist your accountant to handle the filing of these annual reports for you. Maybe they can add that to the value-added services they already provide.
One more thing business owners should know: A value-added service is something your accountant does for you as a courtesy. That means they’re doing it for free because they value you as a client. And accounting professionals, you should think about adding this to your toolbox. It’s a great way to include an easy value add to your services.
Dawn is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and CEO of Powerful Accounting, LLC. Powerful Accounting is a nationally recognized accounting, tax, forensic and fraud, IRS and State Agency audit professionals as well as a QuickBooks consulting firm. Recently, Powerful Accounting has partnered with Anderson, Brolin & Coba...