State law requires for-profit corporations to disclose business information to Secretary of State at the beginning of every year
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The beginning of the new year means tens of thousands of corporations doing business in Rhode Island must file 2011 annual reports with Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
State law requires for-profit businesses to report annual reports between Jan. 1 and March 1. More than 30,000 companies that are registered to do business in Rhode Island are subject to the requirement.
Corporations are required to disclose the names of their officers and directors, an in-state address for business correspondence and contact information for key officials among other data.
"These reports enable consumers to learn more about the companies they do business with," said Mollis. "Filing annual reports demonstrates a company's commitment to openness and that can give peace of mind to someone who want to do business with them."
Filers no longer have to visit the Secretary of State's Providence office in order to submit annual reports. Thanks to improvements to the agency's website, business owners now can file online.
"Our customers have really embraced the upgrades we made over the past few years. More than half the annual reports filed last year came over the web," said Mollis. "The goal is to make it easier for companies to do business with us."
To use on-line filing, simply visit www.sos.ri.gov  and click on the "File Annual Reports" link. Every company has been assigned its own unique Customer Identification Number and Personal Identification Number order to ensure security.
Corporations can still choose to file by mail or in person at the Secretary of State's Business Services Division, 148 West River St., Providence.
Failure to file an annual report can result in the revocation of a company's Certificate of Incorporation or Certificate of Authority. Those certifications provide companies with the legal basis for conducting a variety of business-related activities in Rhode Island such as direct sales. In addition, state law assesses fines for late filing.
At other times of the year, non-profit corporations and limited liability companies are also required to file annual reports with the Secretary of State.
"State law makes my office responsible for corporate record-keeping, and we are committed to giving the public easy access to current information. The business community deserves recognition for contributing to that goal," said Mollis.
The Secretary of State's office works with almost every company registered to do business in Rhode Island. The office oversees recording commercial liens, protecting corporate trademarks and providing advice to start-up businesses.