PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The beginning of the new year means tens of thousands of companies doing business in Rhode Island must file annual reports with Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
State law requires for-profit corporations to submit annual reports from Jan. 1 and March 1. More than 30,000 companies ranging from car dealers to mortgage companies to restaurants are subject to the requirement.
Thanks to improvements to the Secretary of State's website, they can now file on-line. Every corporation has been assigned its own unique Customer Identification Number and Personal Identification Number in order to ensure security.
"Our customers have really embraced the upgrades we made. More than half the annual reports filed last year came over the web," said Mollis. "We're making it easier for companies to do business in Rhode Island."
They can also choose to file by mail or in person at the at the Secretary of State's Business Services Division, 148 West River St., Providence, during normal business hours.
Failure to file an annual report can result in the revocation of a corporation's Certificate of Incorporation or Certificate of Authority. Those certifications provide them with the legal basis for conducting a variety of business-related activities in Rhode Island such as direct sales. In addition, state law includes fines for late filing.
At other times of the year, non-profit and for-profit corporations are also required to file annual reports with the Secretary of State.
"State law makes my office responsible for corporate record-keeping. I am committed to giving Rhode Islanders access to current and accurate information. The business community deserves credit for being my partner in this effort," said Mollis.
Mollis posts the reports on his website. The public can search the database by the corporation's name, location and type of business among other topics. There is even contact information for every company's key contact.
"This transparency is consumer-friendly and ensures that the public has a place to turn for information about businesses," said Mollis. "Filing annual reports shows their commitment to openness. And that can make people thinking of doing business with them more confident."
The Secretary of State's office works with every corporate entity registered to do business in Rhode Island – 60,000 in all. The office also oversees recording commercial liens and protecting corporate trademarks and provides advice to start-up businesses.
Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote, making it easier to do business in Rhode Island and making government more open and accessible. For more information about the programs and services the Secretary of State offers Rhode Islanders, visit sos.ri.gov.