Importance of Making Sure Your Corporate Status is Up to Date

On September 8, 2015, the United States Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) dismissed a claim for lack of jurisdiction when it determined that a contractor was not in good standing at the time of the filing, and thus it could not file the claim.

Western States Federal Contracting, LLC (Western States) filed a protest seeking damages from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that Western States did not have the right to sue because it was not in good standing in its state of incorporation due to unpaid taxes in the amount of $981.

On several occasions, the CBCA ordered Western States to show that it was in good standing and had the right to sue. Although Western States was not in good standing in Delaware, where it was incorporated, Western States first attempted to show it was in good standing in Arizona, where it was conducting business. CBCA rejected this showing and ordered Western States to show it was in good standing in Delaware. Western States was unable to make this showing.

After Western States paid its overdue tax bill, and regained its good standing in Delaware, it argued that its good standing status should be retroactive. The CBCA found that Western States did not have standing to pursue its damages claim because it was not in good standing when it filed its appeal.

In addition to the having the capacity to sue and be sued, here are three other primary reasons why keeping your business in good standing status is good for business.

1. Lenders, Vendors, and Others Might Require a Good Standing Certificate

Lenders sometimes require good-standing status in order to approve new financing. They generally view a loss of good standing status as an increased risk which may increase the cost of financing or even limit the ability to obtain financing. Other businesses might require a Certificate of Good Standing for certain transactions, requests for proposals (RFPs) or contracts. Or, you may need one to sell the business, for real estate closings, or for mergers, acquisitions, or expansions. If a business can’t provide a Certificate of Good Standing, it raises a compliance “red flag” that indicates something’s wrong with the company’s state status.

2. Keeping Your Business Good Standing Often Saves Money in the Long Run

If a business doesn’t maintain its good-standing status, the state likely will make an involuntary adverse status change for the company, labeling it as “delinquent,” “void,” “suspended” or “dissolved,” depending on the state and the compliance problem. The most common reasons for losing good standing include a missed annual report, problems regarding the company’s registered agent-and-office, or unpaid fees or franchise taxes. The cost of fixing these mistakes can add up; preventing these mistakes is not expensive. By simply keeping your LLC or corporation in good standing, you could help:

  • Keep overall operating costs lower—filing on time avoids extra fees and fines from sapping your budget.

  • Prevent a state from administratively dissolving the LLC or corporation (and then having to try for a reinstatement) or worse yet, have to start all over again because your LLC or corporation has been permanently “purged”.

  • Maintain the limited liability protection that an LLC, corporation, or other business entity provides.

  • Preserve your rights to your LLC’s or corporation’s legal name in state records.

  • Keep your business poised for sudden contract opportunities, bids, or deals with other companies that require a Certificate of Good Standing to pursue or seal the deal.

3. Good Standing Helps When You Expand Into Other States

When you form your LLC or corporation, the state generally considers you to be “organizing” a business “entity.” Your business entity (e.g., LLC, corporation) has the right to do business in the state of organization only. If you want to expand and do business in other states, you’ll need to register to transact business in those states, too. Usually, the new state(s) ask for a Certificate of Good Standing from your formation state (or your “domestic” state) before they’ll let you register.

Checking Your Good Standing

Still, it’s not always easy to know which regulations and obligations apply to your corporation or LLC. Compliance can seem complicated or costly at times. Regulations change. And it can be difficult to keep track of the various deadlines your company must meet.  However, compliance can be done easily and inexpensively, relative to the cost of noncompliance.  We recommend that at least annually, you or your legal counsel should confirm that your LLC or corporation is in good standing in its state of formation as well as every state with which you are conducting business.

All states allow steps to be taken for a not-in-good-standing corporation or LLC to restore its standing, and that if good standing is restored, generally it will be as if the corporation or LLC had consistently remained in good standing.

© 2015 Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C.

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