This is a guest post by James Gilmer of Harbor Compliance. Harbor Compliance is a leading provider of compliance solutions for companies of all types and sizes.
For charities with fiscal years ending June 30, November is tax time, as IRS Form 990s come due 4 months and 15 days after close of the fiscal year on November 15. In more than a dozen states, charitable solicitation registrations must be renewed at the same time. This creates a bit of a paperwork scramble for many nonprofits at this time of year (and again on May 15, when calendar-year nonprofits will feel the same pinch).
The deadline mashup is particularly challenging because fundraising registration renewals require information that can only be found on the 990, so they can’t be submitted until the 990 has been completed.
In fact, several states require charities to include a copy of their completed 990 in the charitable solicitation renewal packet. If your financials aren’t prepared far enough in advance, you may not be able to meet your renewal deadlines.
Fortunately, there are ways to juggle the deadlines to preserve your fundraising authority with state charity officials, even if your financials are coming in under the wire or being extended. All you need to do is map out your due dates, understand your filing options, and plan ahead.
When are fundraising registration renewals due?
Each state establishes its own timeline for renewing fundraising registrations. Most are based on fiscal year end, while a handful is set on a single calendar date, and still, others are based on the nonprofit’s date of initial registration.
The following states have renewal deadlines that coincide with 990 due dates:
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
For charities with a fiscal year ending June 30, renewals are due November 15 in those states.
In addition, regardless of fiscal year end, Maine requires charities to file renewals and annual financial reports by November 30. Depending on your registration date, you may have other deadlines coming around this time as well.
If you aren’t sure what registrations and renewals your nonprofit is required to file, our Fundraising Compliance Guide is a great resource. In addition to a general explanation of fundraising registration requirements, you’ll find renewal due dates for every state, detailed filing instructions, links to state resources, and more.
Note that even if you are exempt from charitable registration requirements in a state, you may still need to apply for exemptions and renew them as well. Don’t assume that being exempt from requirements means being exempt from state filings.
What if our financials won’t be ready in time to file our renewals?
Fortunately, nonprofits can usually apply to the state charity office for an extension on a charitable solicitation renewal. This is generally a separate task from filing tax extensions with the IRS (Form 8868). Tax Bandits can help you with your 990 filings, while Harbor Compliance can help you with getting extensions and expediting your charitable solicitation renewals.
What if we’ve already extended our deadlines from May?
For nonprofits on a calendar tax year, IRS Form 990s were due May 15. Many charities request a three-month extension using IRS Form 8868, and some go on to refile for another three-month extension, the maximum allowed. While this provides more time to prepare and file the tax return, it can present challenges in keeping your state fundraising registrations up to date.
If your charity has filed two Form 8868 extensions with the IRS, and also filed charitable solicitation renewal extensions with states that follow the same schedule, your final due date for those filings is generally going to be November 15. In some states, you may still be required to submit other registration information prior to November 15.
State charitable solicitation deadlines are a good reason to discuss early preparation of your 990 tax return and financial statements, not to mention the overall benefit of early reporting to the IRS and the sector. Being prepared will also reduce stress on your staff at this busy time of year.
Compliance Is Important
This may seem like a lot of work, but charitable solicitation registration protects the public by ensuring transparency and access to charities that solicit their donations. By working proactively to stay on top of filings, you can cut the task down to size and enjoy the benefits of maintaining active registration, including:
- Protecting your ability to reach out to donors
- Demonstrating your commitment to responsible governance
- Safeguarding your good standing with charity regulators
- Encouraging support from savvy donors who research before donating
At Harbor Compliance, we specialize in putting the benefits of total compliance within reach for nonprofits and businesses of all sizes. We can take the work of charitable solicitation registration and renewals off your plate so you can focus on your mission. To learn more, give us a call, 1-888-995-5895, or get in touch. We’re happy to help!
Note: Harbor Compliance is not an accounting or law firm and does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice.
James Gilmer is a compliance specialist at Harbor Compliance, a leading provider of compliance solutions for companies of all types and sizes. Founded by a team of government licensing specialists and technology trailblazers, Harbor Compliance has helped more than 10,000 organizations apply for, secure, and maintain licensing across all industries. James is also a co-founder of Berks Sinfonietta, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit chamber orchestra in Reading, Pennsylvania.