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Nonprofit Filing Requirements by State

Nonprofit Filing Requirements by State

Your nonprofit organization was created to serve the public good. By establishing your organization’s 501(c)(3) tax status, you’re considered tax-exempt and can allocate all profits to furthering the organization’s mission. However, tax-exempt nonprofits still must file informational documents annually with the IRS and follow nonprofit state filing requirements. Failure to do so will jeopardize the organization’s tax-exempt status.

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Nonprofit State Filing Requirements

Individual states also require nonprofits to file reports annually. The nonprofit requirements by state vary, but most require organizations to verify contact and mailing information, board leadership and responsible parties, and the individual under whom the organization is registered. Additionally, information about employees may need to be filed with the state’s Department of Labor, and forms for sales tax exemptions must be confirmed and updated.

If your nonprofit filed incorporation papers or is registered to conduct business in the state, then you may need to file a corporate report annually or bi-annually. This information is typically submitted to the agency that maintains records for all registered nonprofits in your state.

Nonprofit Filing Requirements

The majority of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations are required to file Form 990 from the IRS annually. Any nonprofit organization with gross receipts less than $50,000 will file the 990N IRS form.

Nonprofit Filing Requirement Deadlines

Whether your organization completes the IRS form 990 or the IRS 990N, the form should be sent to the IRS after the end of the fiscal year. Organizations have five months to complete and submit the documents before the final due date on the 15th day of the month. Failure to file on time can result in fines and income tax liability. A repeated failure to file the 990 may result in revocation of the organization’s tax-exempt status.

Nonprofit Filing Requirements for Fundraising

Nonprofit state filing requirements will vary, but most organizations soliciting donations or contributions are required to file annual registration describing their fundraising activities. Depending on the organization’s fundraising reach, paid fundraising professionals are also required by state charitable solicitation laws to register with the state(s) they operate in.

Filing Advice for Nonprofit Managers

State filings are tasks that need to be taken seriously. When preparing your organization’s reports, be sure to work with both your board and a tax professional to ensure compliance and complete transparency. Accurate information will be appreciated by donors and stakeholders, and it can guarantee that your approval to operate never falls into jeopardy.

A nonprofit manager working with children.

Get in touch with our nonprofit experts today to help ensure your organization remains compliant and start achieving your nonprofit’s goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

At the federal level, you’ll have to file three forms through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

  • IRS Form SS-4 allows you to establish your employee identification number (EIN), which is a requirement for all organizations that employ people (nonprofit or otherwise).

  •  IRS Form 1023 allows you to be recognized as a tax-exempt entity. 
  • IRS Form 990 is filed annually and allows you to provide updated information about your nonprofit to the IRS (there are exceptions to this filing requirement, such as for church-affiliated organizations). If your organization is not exempt but your gross receipts are less than $50,000 annually, you’ll generally file a Form 990N.

Nonprofit requirements by state can vary. Even if your organization is exempt from paying taxes, many states still require financial disclosures to be made on an annual basis (similar to the information provided on Form 990, but at the state level). In addition, many states have their own tax-exempt certificate that must be renewed annually—often in lieu of a formal tax return. 

For more information about state-specific filing requirements, refer to our guide to Nonprofit Filing Requirements by State, and reach out to us anytime if you have questions or need help understanding your state’s specific requirements.

To apply for 501(c)(3) status, you’ll need to complete IRS form 1023. As part of this application process, you’ll need to have been in business for at least 3 years and you’ll need to submit financial records to the IRS. 

Once you achieve tax-exempt status, you’ll typically have to submit Form 990 every year at tax time. 

Large organizations will file a standard 990 while mid-sized organizations (those with gross receipts between $50,000 and $200,000) can file a 990 EZ, and small organizations may file a 990N. 

Certain types of organizations, like churches, are exempt from filing with the IRS. 

No. The 990 filing requirements apply to a majority of nonprofits, but certain types of organizations are exempt. These include churches, religious schools, and certain political organizations. Refer to our 990 Requirements and Questions guide for more information. 

Although nonprofit organizations are exempt from paying state and federal taxes, they typically have to make annual financial disclosures. At the federal level, this is generally satisfied via Form 990 (or some variation thereof). At the state level, this is usually handled via a form submitted to the Secretary of State. 

Most nonprofit organizations will need to submit Form 990 to the Internal Revenue Service each year. At the state level, nonprofit filing requirements vary. 

Non-profit state filing requirements vary and are usually managed by the Secretary of State. The experts at Brytebridge can help you to remain in compliance with both your state and federal obligations.

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