More businesses now filing reports online
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says more businesses are taking advantage of online opportunities to make annual business filings, a move that is saving the state thousands of dollars.
Each year, state businesses have to file annual reports with the Secretary of State's office providing non-financial information on the business, including corporate officers, business address and service of process address.
Business owners may also submit an email address with their annual report.
While those reports were typically mailed for many years, in the last decade the state has allowed business owners to file these reports online at www.business4wv.com.
Tennant said state business owners have started to catch on to the benefits of online filing in recent years.
"We've seen the popularity of online filing increase dramatically," she said in a statement.
In 2009, only about 14,000 businesses filed online. That number increased to more than 47,000 last year.
"This shows that business owners in West Virginia appreciate that the Secretary of State's Office is helping them focus on running their business and filing important paperwork in a way that is most convenient for them," Tennant said.
Each year, the Secretary of State's office sends regular reminders to businesses informing them of the deadline to file their annual reports.
As of January, there were 89,976 businesses listed on the office's mailing list — a record high in the number of businesses registered.
Beginning in 2012, the Secretary of State's office began sending out email reminders to businesses with listed email addresses, rather than sending them paper notifications.
That year, the office saved about $20,200 notifying more than 56,000 businesses via email.
This year, the office expects to save about $23,000 by emailing about 71,000 businesses.
In addition to the online filing portal, the Business and Licensing division of the Secretary of State's office also maintains an interactive online chat to help answer any questions business owners may have.
The chat feature is available on the office's website, www.wvsos.com, weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m.
The online chat was launched in December 2011 as a way to help business owners avoid having to wait on the phone to speak to a specialist. Individuals can simply log on to the chat, ask a question and get an immediate response.
The chat was recently nominated as one of four finalists for the National Association of Secretaries of State IDEAS Award, which recognizes innovation, dedication, excellence and achievement in service by secretaries of state.
"This is wonderful recognition for the forward thinking and business-friendly attitude that we have in the Secretary of State's office," Tennant said.
"From making it easier to file an annual report online, to our On The Road events where we bring services directly to the business owners of our state, to this now nationally recognized online chat feature, we are leading the way when it comes to keeping the economy strong in West Virginia by helping business owners focus on their product and not paperwork," she said.
The winner of the IDEAS award will be announced during the association's Summer Conference this July in Anchorage, Alaska.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5148.