The Democrat who’s running to be Iowa’s next secretary of state says one of his top priorities would be updating the system Iowans must use to file the documents that incorporate their businesses. Brad Anderson says each month more than a thousand Iowans file the paperwork with the secretary of state’s office to open a business.
“The process is confusing, time-consuming and woefully outdated,” Anderson says.
The process should be fully automated, according to Anderson, who says some potential businesses might be so discouraged by the paperwork and the process that they might abandon their business plans.
“What takes minutes in Minnesota and Missouri takes days in Iowa and that is unacceptable, especially considering Iowa is the state that invented the computer,” Anderson says, “so we should be able to file our businesses online relatively easily.”
Nate Reagen of Des Moines recently spent two weeks trying to register his wife’s businesses.
“The way the process works is you’re to upload your document to the website and then upon upload you get a tracking number and with that tracking number you call in and give them a credit card number over the phone,” Reagen says.
That’s where Reagen’s process broke down. The person in the secretary of state’s office who answered the phone didn’t write Reagen’s credit card number down correctly, so the state couldn’t collect the filing fee. The secretary of state’s office sent Reagen the hand-written notes and told him he’d have to start the filing process all over again.
Anderson says if he’s elected, he’ll “modernize” the filing process, plus he’ll post advice on the secretary of state’s office about which documents should be filed for a partnership, a corporation or some other type of business entity.
“If you go on the secretary of state’s website, there are several different filings to choose from, but there’s not a whole lot of guidance as to which is the right one for you,” Anderson says. “And so I believe some kind of checklist (is needed) to help businesses walk through the process and say: ‘O.K., this is the right filing for me.'”
And Anderson says in 2014 there is “no excuse” for the state to require business owners to pay the filing fee by giving their credit card number over the the phone, or via FAX. He says an on-line payment system would be more secure and would help reduce errors.
Iowa’s current secretary of state, Matt Schultz, is not seeking reelection but is, instead, running in the Republican Primary for Iowa’s third district congressional seat.