Tuesday, October 21, 2003

File Those Delinquent Returns Now

Beginning January 1, 2004, the annual filing fee for a corporation in Maryland will be increased from $100 to $300. There is currently no filing fee for LLCs, LPs, LLPs, etc. Beginning January 1, 2004, there will be imposed on these entities the same $300 fee imposed upon corporations.

If an entity required to file a tangible personal property return fails to do so, it will ultimately have its charter revoked. In order to obtain reinstatement, it must file all delinquent returns and pay any tax due.

I belong to a private listserve for Maryland tax practitioners. Recently, I posted on the listserve the following question with respect to the filing of these returns:

I may be one of the only attorneys on this list who remembers when the annual filing fee in Maryland for a corporation was $40. It was subsequently increased to $100. (I assume that anyone older than me is so old that they can no longer remember such things.)

In any event, when the filing fee was increased, SDAT took the position that the filing of any tangible personal property tax return after the date of the increase would cost $100, even if the year for which the return was due was a year where the cost would have been only $40 had return had been timely filed.

Does anyone know whether a similar rule will apply after December 31, 2003? In other words, if a corporation has not filed required tangible personal tax returns in pre-2004 years, will filing them after December 31, 2003 cost $300 for each delinquent year rather than $100. (And, taking this to its logical conclusion, will filing returns for LLCs, LLP, etc., after December 31, 2003 for pre-2004 years will invoke a toll charge of $300 per year rather than being a freebie.)

Evelyn Pasquier and Karen Syrylo both responded that my assumption was correct. As Evelyn said:

The statute says that the new fees for annual reports are applicable to "all annual reports filed after December 31, 2003." I don't think there is any sustainable argument that reports for pre-2004 years carry the lower fee if they are filed on or after January 1, 2004. If one has a corporation or an LLC, LLP, etc., that has not filed its 2003 (or earlier) annual report, I think one would be well advised to get it filed before the end of the year. (By the way, I, too, remember the $40 fee.)

While I, of course, find it impossible to believe that Evelyn is old enough to remember the $40 annual fee, I believe that her and Karen's analysis is correct. I am currently in the process of filing articles of revival for a corporation that has failed to file its last seven annual reports. The cost for filing those reports now is $700. If we were to wait until January 2, the cost would skyrocket to $2,100. The moral: He who hesitates may not be lost, but he most certainly does lose.

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