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The Challenge of Tracking Compliance Due Dates for Nonprofits

By: Ron Barrett, COGENCY GLOBAL on Thu, May 11, 2023

What this is: A list of some of the challenges you could face when it comes to pinpointing due dates for nonprofit compliance. 

What this means: Due to the lack of uniformity, there’s no shortage of differences in what triggers state corporate and charitable compliance due dates. 

The Challenge of Tracking Compliance Due Dates for Nonprofits Header

When it comes to compliance, nonprofits get an extra dose of registration filings that is not always welcome or easily understood. For those that are well-versed in compliance for nonprofits, one of the difficult tasks is tracking due dates and understanding what triggers them. 

Well, start loading your calendars and get ready to take aim at some moving targets as it’s not always an easy shot for nonprofits trying to comply with state charitable and corporate filing requirements. 

Corporate Annual Report and Charitable Registration Renewal/Compliance 

Nonprofits that solicit charitable donations nationwide and/or conduct business in multiple states (i.e. have a Certificate of Authority or are qualified to transact business in a state) are required to file annual or periodic reports with multiple state offices. 

On the corporate side, there is the need to file periodic or annual reports, usually with the Secretary of State or a state office that regulates business activities. Similarly, on the charitable side, nonprofits that are registered to solicit charitable donations in one or more of the 42 states that require registration, must file annual renewals and other filings with the state charities regulator, usually a division under the Office of the Attorney General, Secretary of State or Consumer Protection Office. 

Calculating Due Dates 

Unfortunately, when it comes to calculating state corporate and charitable compliance due dates, the states are far from uniform. Each state has different triggers or requirements that determine corporate and charitable compliance due dates. There are, however, a few broad themes. Most states calculate compliance due dates based on an organization’s calendar or fiscal year end, date of formation, qualification or registration or on a uniform statutorily required due date for all organizations in the state. The examples below illustrate how due dates vary even within a single state. 

For charities registered to solicit donations in California, a charitable solicitation registration renewal on Form RRF-1 (Annual Registration Renewal Fee Report) is due 4.5 months after a nonprofit’s fiscal year end. Whereas the California corporate annual report (Statement of Information) is due on the last day of the month that a foreign nonprofit was qualified to conduct business in California. (The use of the word “foreign” in this context means a nonprofit not incorporated in California.) For California domestic nonprofits, the filing is due biennially on the last day of the incorporation anniversary month. This is further complicated by the fact that an initial report is required 90 days after a nonprofit (domestic or foreign) incorporates or qualifies to transact business in California. 

Due to the lack of uniformity, there isn’t a shortage of differences in what triggers state corporate and charitable compliance due dates. The lists below illustrate how the states differ when it comes to due dates for required state corporate and charitable filings. 

Sampling of Corporate Annual or Periodic Report Due Dates 

  • Last day of anniversary month: CA, ID, IN, NJ, NV, VA and WA
  • Last day of 2nd month following filing month: CO
  • Prior to 1st day of anniversary month: IL
  • First day of anniversary month: WY
  • Fifteenth day of 6th month following fiscal year end: KS
  • End of quarter in which nonprofit was originally filed: HI and WI (domestic only)
  • Every 5 years on last day of anniversary month: OH 

In addition to calendar-based due dates, a few states that normally do not require a filing might request one. For example, Texas can request a periodic report once every 4 years and Mississippi, where an annual filing is voluntary, may request a status report, which, if requested, is due within 90 days of the requested date. Another example is Pennsylvania, which normally requires a filing once every 10 years, unless the officers of a nonprofit change, in which case an annual report is due by April 30 of the year following the change.  Note though, starting in 2024, nonprofits will be required to file an annual report in Pennsylvania by June 30 (see Act 122 of 2022). Also, keep in mind that in most states (Maryland being a notable exception), filing extensions are not available for corporate annual or periodic reports. 

logo-cogency-color-1Would you like to read more about building a foundation for your mission? Start with our Nonprofit Services Resource Center.

Sampling of Charitable Registration Renewal and/or Annual Financial Reporting 

  • Four and a half months after fiscal year end: CA, CO, MA, MS, NH, NC, OH, OR, SC and VA 
  • Six months after fiscal year end: IL, KS, MD, NJ, NM and TN
  • Registration anniversary: FL, OK, RI and WV
  • Biennial anniversary: DC and GA
  • September 1: AK and ND
  • Ninety days after fiscal year end: AL
  • Earlier of January 1, April 1, July 1 or October 1 one year after anniversary: UT 

Extensions: A Moving Target on the Compliance Calendar 

A final consideration with respect to charitable registration renewal due dates is the fact that most nonprofits are not able to file their IRS Form 990, 990-EZ or 990-PF (Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax) on time with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS requires this filing 4.5 months after a tax-exempt organization’s fiscal year end. The IRS, however, allows a 6-month extension. Similarly, most states will also allow for extensions as they relate to the due dates for charitable registration renewal and/or annual financial reporting. So, most of the above charitable registration due dates must be adjusted in the states where extensions are allowed. Be careful though, some state extensions do not match the 6-month IRS extension (e.g. up to 90 days in NC), others don’t allow for them at all and still others will allow an extension for financial reporting, but not for the charitable registration renewal.  

As you can see, tracking the different due dates between states and even within a state for keeping your nonprofit in compliance with corporate and charitable requirements can be quite a challenge. And it gets even more tricky when extensions change those due dates. By developing a flexible tickler system (a system designed to help attorneys remember certain dates) that takes these factors into account or by working with a reputable service company, you can greatly improve the odds that you’ll hit the target.  

For more on this subject, please refer to Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: Nolo's 50-State Digital Guide by Ronald J. Barrett and Stephen Fishman, J.D. 


What happens if a charity does not file an extension for IRS form 990? 

Not filing an extension with the IRS precludes charities from filing an extension with many of the state charities offices. Unless all of the required state filings (charitable solicitation renewals and/or state annual reports) are also filed on time, many states will revoke a nonprofit’s charitable registration. This can lead to late fees and the need to re-register, both of which are needless expenses that can be easily avoided. Read more about this topic at Why Charities Should Consider Extending the Deadline for Filing IRS Form 990

What are the consequences for nonprofit corporations who file late or fail to file an annual or periodic report altogether? 

Fortunately, in most states, a small financial penalty, usually $25 or less, or no financial penalty is assessed when nonprofit corporations file late or fail to file an annual or periodic report. However, California charges a $50 penalty, likely as a result of the large number of nonprofits in California. Another notable state is Delaware with a $200 penalty for filing late. Read more on this topic at Nonprofit Corporate Compliance: Required Annual and Periodic Reports and the Consequences of Failing to Comply

What are some of the required filings for nonprofit organizations? 

The District of Columbia and 37 states currently require some form of charitable registration prior to solicitation of charitable donations by most nonprofit organizations. In addition, most of these states require filings in the form of an annual report, renewal, update or some form of compliance filing to remain in good standing with the state charity bureau, usually a division of the Secretary of State or Office of the Attorney General. You can learn more at Charitable Solicitation Registration, Renewal and Compliance: Required Filings and the Consequences of Failing to Comply

This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.

Topics: Nonprofit Registration and Compliance, Charitable Solicitation Registration