After you start your business, you must take steps to keep your business legally compliant. If you have a Massachusetts limited liability company (LLC), you must follow Massachusetts law to keep your business in good standing with the state, including filing the appropriate reports and taxes.
Massachusetts requires every LLC to file an annual report with the Secretary of State (SOS). The annual report will include the same information as the LLC's certificate of organization. You must confirm or update the following information:
The annual report must be filed each year on or before the anniversary date of the filing of the original certificate of organization. As of 2023, the annual report filing fee for a Massachusetts LLC is $500.
In Massachusetts, for tax purposes, LLCs are treated the same at the state level as they're treated at the federal level. So, if your LLC is taxed as a partnership (the default classification for multi-member LLCs) at the federal level, your LLC will be taxed as a partnership in Massachusetts.
No franchise tax. Some states impose a franchise tax on companies for the privilege of doing business in the state. Massachusetts doesn't impose a franchise tax.
Electing corporate tax status. Some LLC owners choose to have their business treated like a corporation for tax purposes. Unlike the default pass-through tax situation, when an LLC elects to be taxed as a corporation, the company itself must file a separate tax return and pay corporate taxes. Massachusetts has a corporate excise tax. The tax generally is calculated based on a combination of taxable tangible property and net income. As of 2023, the minimum excise tax is $456. File the corporate excise tax return (Form 355) with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR). For more details, check out the Massachusetts DOR Corporate Excise Tax Guide.
Your tax liability can depend on your business structure, your business activities, the amount of property you have, and your LLC's income. Figuring out which taxes you owe and how much to pay can be difficult. If you have questions about your legal liability, reach out to a business attorney.
Does your LLC have employees? If so, you'll need to pay employer taxes. Some of these taxes are paid to the federal government (the IRS) and aren't covered here. (But note that federal employer tax obligations start with obtaining an EIN.) However, Massachusetts employers also must pay taxes to the state.
Withholding employee wages. As an employer, you must register with the DOR to collect withholding taxes. You can register your business using MassTaxConnect. Once registered, you must file quarterly wage reports. Massachusetts provides detailed instructions on its withholding taxes on wages webpage.
Unemployment insurance (UI) tax. Employers must make quarterly contributions to the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA). You must register with the DUA to pay this tax. After you register, you'll submit a quarterly employment and wage detail report to the DUA and pay the contributions owed for that quarter. Review Massachusetts's guide to employer contributions to the DUA for more guidance.
If your LLC will sell taxable goods or services to customers in Massachusetts, you'll need to collect and pay sales tax. To pay this tax, you have to register for this purpose with DOR and then make periodic sales tax payments. You can register your business online by creating a MassTaxConnect account. Once your registration is approved, you'll receive a sales and use tax registration certificate.
You'll file a return and make your tax payment every month, quarter, or year depending on how much sales tax you collect. You can submit Form ST-9 for goods and STS for services online with your MassTaxConnect account or by mail. Your business could be required to make advance tax payments.
In addition to state sales and use tax, you might be responsible for reporting and paying sales and use tax to your city or county. Make sure you check with your local taxing authorities for your reporting responsibilities.
For more, check out the sales and use tax webpage on the Massachusetts state website. Here, you can find information about which goods and services are taxable, when you must register your business, how to file and pay sales and use tax, and other resources.
If you organized your LLC in Massachusetts, then your registration qualifies you to do business within the state. But if you want to do business outside of Massachusetts, you'll likely need to register with the states where you plan to conduct your business. For example, if you formed your business in Massachusetts but want to do business in Massachusetts and Connecticut, then you'll probably need to register to do business in Connecticut. To Connecticut—and any other state besides Massachusetts—your business will be considered a foreign (out-of-state) business.
For more on how to register as an out-of-state business, see our state guide to qualifying to do business outside your state.