Monthly Archives: May 2016

8 Things to Know about Charitable Solicitation Registration in Florida

Florida is the second in our series highlighting things to know for state charitable registration. It lends itself well to this topic mostly because Florida provides excellent resources without much digging and the Charitable Organization Office of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was very forthcoming with information. Without further delay, here are 8  things to know about charitable solicitation registration in Florida.

  1. Read the line by line instructions provided with the registration application. They are full of notes that will help you understand how to answer questions for Florida.
  2. Included in the instructions is a definition of ‘contributions’ as it pertains to the registration fee. Pay close attention to this definition to make sure you are not underpaying or overpaying.
  3. As of 2015 Florida requires a certification that the registering organization has a conflict of interest (COI)  policy. To fulfill this obligation, organizations must provide a letter on letterhead signed by one board member that the organization has a COI policy that all board members have read and understood and check the question on the registration form that the certification is attached. You DO NOT need to attach a copy of the COI policy.      Note: If you file a Form 990 with the IRS and have answered ‘Yes’ to Part VI, Section B (Policies), Questions 12A, B, & C, you do not need to attach a COI policy certification.
  4. On the list of officers, directors, trustees, and principal salaried executive personnel, make sure you mark below each entry whether or not the individual has a criminal history. Apparently many charities forget this.
  5. Unless you file an IRS 990 or 990-EZ you must complete the Financial Statement on pages 8-10 of the Florida Registration form.
  6. The Charity Office will respond to your application within 15 days of receipt and will send you a renewal form within 45 days of your effective registration end date (1 year following the approval of your registration).
  7. Disaster relief organizations that raise $50,000 or more in the aftermath of a disaster must file quarterly reports with the Charity Office.
  8. As good as Florida’s line-by-line instructions are, their Fresh from Florida website foresees many questions charities may have.

Simple Charity Registration has also taken note of these items and included them for your benefit with our Florida materials. We want to make compliance in Florida and in every state requiring charitable solicitation registration easy for you.

4 Things to Know About Alaska Charitable Solicitation Registration Forms

This is our first weekly installment of “Things to Know” about individual state registration processes. Following up on last week’s blog about Alaska’s new charitable solicitation forms, we called the Attorney General’s Office to find out what they wanted charities to know about charity registration in Alaska.

The first thing we learned was that this state is really thinking about how to make registration efficient for both charities and their office by paring it down to the most important and easily available elements. Here are 4 things to know about the new Alaska forms and how they have made life easier for charities.

  1. Common questions- Alaska made their questions in line with those common to many state forms, so there is little special information you have to dig up.
  2. Fewer financial questions- They reduced their financial questions to two — total revenue and total expenditures. They don’t want charities to stress over which interpretation of total revenue and expenditures, so you can draw from the line on your IRS reporting that makes most sense to your organization.
  3. Easy to understand deadlines- Since they have a fixed renewal deadline of September 1, total revenue and total expenses are from the most recently completed fiscal year. If you’re a new charity without a recently complete fiscal year, logically that means your totals will be 0. Easy, right?
  4. No attachments- They did away with all attachments other than lists. You no longer have to attach your IRS filing, your auditing statement, professional fundraiser contracts, etc. You will still need to attach pages to finish any questions on the form, but no bulky attachments. You do, however, have to make them available upon request by the Office of the Attorney General.

Alaska is treating registration exactly as you would wish. They are being responsible to their citizens by requiring registration, but not making it overly burdensome for charities. Making compliance easier. It’s what everyone wants!

IRS Warns Organizations Filing Form 990-N of Possible Error Messages  

The IRS just sent the following notice to its EO (Exempt Organization) update subscribers.

Some Form 990-N Electronic Filing System (e-Postcard) users may see error messages

The Form 990-N online filing system moved from Urban Institute to in February. While the new system has been successful, a very small percentage of users see site errors while registering or submitting the form. The IRS offers this advice:

  • Review the steps listed on How to File Form 990-N. Pay particular attention to the “text character” restrictions.
  • The Form 990-N (e-Postcard) User Guide will explain each step in the filing process.
  • If site errors are unresolved, call TE/GE Customer Account Services at 877-829-5500. A representative will gather your Form 990-N information for filing on your organization’s behalf.
  • Organizations will not be penalized for filing late if it was caused by website issues. Organizations should continue efforts to file, even if they are late.

For more on filing Form 990-N, see the Form 990-N page on

Follow this link to become an EO subscriber and receive important information regarding exempt organizations like we did.

Alaska Charitable Organization Annual Registration Form – Update

Alaska has updated its state charitable organization registration and renewal forms as well as the paid solicitor annual registration form as of 4/1/2016.  Also, they will not be accepting the Unified Registration Statement for charitable organization registrations any longer.

These changes do not effect exempt organizations that are covered under the Alaska Department of Law as they are not required to register:

  • Religious Exemption: Churches or religious organizations that are not required to file federal annual information returns with the IRS.
  • Political Exemption: Candidates for national, state, or local office, and political parties, committees or groups that are required to file financial information with the Alaska Public Offices Commission under AS 15.13 or with the Federal Election Commission under the Federal Election Campaign Act.
  • Revenue Exemption: Charitable organizations with no paid employees or board members that do not intend to raise or receive contributions, excluding government grants, in excess of $5,000 annually, or that do not intend to receive contributions from more than 10 persons annually.
  • Gaming Exemption: An organization that has a current gaming permit issued by the Alaska Department of Revenue pursuant to AS 05.15.100.

Sign into your account to get the new charity registration forms!!  If you don’t have an account sign up to get started, your first state is free!!

Our team is available to answer any questions you have about using or getting started call us at 800.780.6027 or e-mail us at




Your Nonprofit Organizations Form 990: What Are They Looking at?

Today I found a fantastic resource that GuideStar has put together called “Highlights of IRS Form 990”.  It gives an overview of the 12 sections of the Form 990 without leaving you feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the form.  What really drew me in was that the presentation was done from the perspective of the reviewer.  What is the importance of each section?

These are some of the things I found interesting:

How to determine what form year you want to look for from the fiscal year and other goodies that can be found in the header section.  It’s not just where you put the address!! (Pt 3 – Video Tutorial)

Brief explanation of what is the difference between unrelated business income (UBI) and revenue and the proper places to report those incomes including Form 990-T (Pt 4)

Discussion on how your mission statement sets the tone for the rest of the document and flows into Section III: Statement of Program Service Accomplishments. I have new respect for that mission statement!! (Pt 5)

In Part VI: Governance, Management, and Disclosures – I was interested to learn how I could use this form to make the non-profit stronger by implementing some of policies discussed this section of the 990 (Pt 7)

Brief explanation on who needs to be included in Section VIII: Compensation of Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors.  This is always a meaty subject!! (Pt 8)

If you have never worked with the 990 or even if you have it was a nice half hour discussion on the importance of the information that your organization will be presenting to the IRS and interested parties.   It is a good resource to show to new board members and accounting staff who may have not worked prior in the non-profit area.  Plus the presenter had a pleasant voice that kept me engaged!!

The overview can be downloaded and saved as a pdf or they have a complimentary video tutorial that can be found on their website as well as on YouTube and is broken into 10 parts for a total run time of less than 40 minutes.  That is probably my favorite feature as I can listen and learn “one bite at a time”!!

Calendar Year Nonprofit Filers – No Time to Spare!!

Can you believe that it’s almost May 16th?  The financial reporting due date falling on the weekend might have bought you an extra day but it still means that for calendar year organizations their IRS 990, 990-EZ, or 990-N forms are due today!!  If that wasn’t “taxing” enough it also means that for many non-profit organizations that their state charitable solicitation renewals and financial reports are also due today.  Not to worry we have been preparing all year for you!!

Twelve states require calendar year filers to submit their state charity registration renewals or annual financial reports 4.5 months after their fiscal year end which is normally on May 15th.  Although some states do offer some relief, it comes in the form of extensions of time but the requirements vary for each state.  Some only offer extensions online through their own portals like Colorado, Hawaii and Ohio while others like California and New York just require that you send the IRS 8868 Extension Form with your renewal once it is complete. While still others require that you fax, mail or e-mail a form or letter to their offices some with and some without the IRS 8868 Extension Form.

Calendar Year Files State Charity Form Due Dates 4.5 months after FYE
State Filing Type State Extension Allowance Where to get help?
California Registration Renewal up to two – 3 month extensions Instructions on
Colorado Registration Renewal up to two – 3 month extensions Colorado Online Portal
Hawaii Annual Financial Report up to two – 3 month extensions Hawaii Online Portal
Kentucky Registration Renewal automatic 6 month extension Letter & Instructions on
Massachusetts Registration Renewal up to two – 6 month extensions Letter & Instructions on
New Hampshire Annual Financial Report 6 month extension Form & Instructions on
New York Annual Financial Report automatic 180 day extension Instructions on
North Carolina Registration Renewal automatic 60 day extension Letter & Instructions on
Ohio Registration Renewal up to two – 6 month extensions Ohio Online Portal
Oregon Annual Financial Report up to 180 day extension Letter & Instructions on
South Carolina Registration Renewal up to two – 3 month extensions Letter & Instructions on
Virginia Registration Renewal up to two – 3 month extensions Form & Instructions on


Here are some of the ways we’ve been preparing:

  1. We’ve created a website called com where you can store, update and access all your organizations state charity registration information year after year. All the forms, copies of letters and instructions can be found all in one place!!  Your own Simple Charity Registration account!!

Once you have created an account we can help you file extensions in the states where you might need a little more time. Then again if you think you are ready you can print and file your renewal registrations or annual financial forms right away!!

  1. We’ve also created blog posts to help you prepare for registration from our own insights or from places with helpful information like:

How Do I Register if My Financials Aren’t Ready?

State Charity Registration Renewals and Annual Financials: Do You Need an Extension?

The Elephant in the Room: Preparing for Your State Charity Registrations (Part I & 2)

  1. Lastly we have created a special registration package for you organization!! During the month of May we are offering the NOLO’s Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: The 50-State Digital Guide  free to anyone who purchases our “All States” package. The one-year subscription to the digital guide is a $125 value. This state-by-state reference guide was prepared by our partners at NCR and gives guidance on such issues as strategies to reduce your registration requirements, the IRS role, and internet fundraising rules.

Now your ready for this!!  Our team is available to answer any questions you have about using or getting started call us at 800.780.6027 or e-mail us at




Charity Solicitation Registration: State-by-State Guidelines for Compliance

I was researching changes to some state requirements yesterday and was given “Charity Registration State-by-State Guidelines for Compliance” as a search related to mine.

It struck me that this particular question reflects two sides of charitable solicitation registration — the user desire for simplicity and the complex reality of the process. There is a certain optimism inherent in the search that there should be some defining chart that answers every question a nonprofit would have in trying to figure out whether they need to register in a state and what registration will entail.

I remember looking for easy-to-read spreadsheets and finding lists that were still complex and while hoping to be definitive, lacked essential information such as how states define terms like charity, religious organization, educational organization, contributions, and revenue. Or, failed to explain why we needed to give additional financial information when we already filed a 990. It seemed that there should be some uniformity in these definitions and requirements.

Unfortunately for the process, states are bound by their need to answer to the concerns of their citizens. If a state has had newsworthy experiences with charities they are going to embed the antidote in their requirements so they can prevent further abuse and strengthen trust in the nonprofit sector.

A few of us developed Simple Charity Registration to be able to address the nonprofit need for ease and the states’ need for directed regulation. We have tried to include significant information about compliance without making it overwhelming. We hope you find it the answer to your search.

Annual Informational Return Basics for Nonprofits – IRS Forms 990-N, 990-EZ, 990, and 990-PF

Why am I Filing a Tax Return if my Organization is Exempt?

The series 990 returns are not tax returns used to assess a tax rather they are annual informational returns.  They are used for providing the IRS and the public with information about your organization’s programs, activities, relationships, transactions, and governance, in addition to revenues, expenses and assets.

What Form Should my Organization File?

Gross receipts less than $50,000 file a 990-N (also called a Postcard) electronically.

Note: most states require you to file a 990, 990-EZ or their state form which contains similar information with your charity registration or renewal forms so be prepared to provide that level of information.

Gross receipts less than $200,000 and Total assets less than $500,000 file a 990-EZ or 990.

Gross receipts greater than $200,000 or Total assets greater than $500,000 file a 990.

Private Foundations should always file the 990-PF regardless of their financial status.

For further reference, see IRS 990 Instructions or Guidestar publishes many informative blogs on IRS reporting requirements and is also always here to help.

What’s New in May?? Nolo’s 50 State Registration Guide, Nonprofit Software Training, State Solicitation Registration Extensions & Renewal Preparation Information

Can you believe that it’s May already? For the calendar year filers you have less than 2 weeks before your IRS Forms 990, 990-EZ or 990-N are due. It also means that many state charitable solicitation registrations are coming due you can sign into your account or make one today to see when your state registration forms are due.

Let’s Make May Simple Package!!

During the month of May we are offering a FREE one year $125 digital subscription to the Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: NOLO’s 50-State Digital Guide  to anyone who purchases our “All States” package!!

This state-by-state reference guide was prepared by our partners at NCR.  It is packed with easy to follow guidance on such issues as strategies to reduce your registration requirements, state requirements, the IRS’s role, and internet fundraising rules.

Blogs & Such

You can also browse our blogs for information on filing registration extensions and requirements.

  1. How Do I Register if My Financials Aren’t Ready?
  2. State Charity Registration Renewals and Annual Financials: Do You Need an Extension?
  3. The Elephant in the Room: Preparing for Your State Charity Registrations Part I

Then sign into your account and file any extensions if you need or simply complete your renewal forms if you’re ready!!


And to round it all out you may also want to register for our upcoming FREE software training webinar on May 10 at 2:00 PM EST.

Our team is available to answer any questions you have about using  and purchasing your “All States” package to ease your state charity registration burden.  Phone us at 800.780.6027 or email


What Counts as Compensation on my Nonprofit Organizations Form 990 or 990-EZ? Get Help from the IRS

May 15 is quickly approaching and many nonprofit organizations are busily trying to prepare their IRS 990 or 990-EZ forms. If you are having difficulties understanding how to report compensation, you may want to join the IRS Webinar on Reporting Compensation on Form 990 or 990-EZ. This webinar will cover:

  • How to report compensation
  • How to complete Form 990 and Form 990-EZ
  • What has to be reported
  • Other compensation
  • Exceptions
  • Highest compensated employees

What is Complicated About Reporting Compensation?

In 2008, the IRS expanded the reporting requirements for nonprofit compensation and particularly of key personnel. The new rules added a process by which executive compensation is determined, added reporting to include compensation that results from related organizations, and gives a monetary and responsibility threshold for defining “key employees.”

Although this is not new information it is still confusing for new and continuing organizations alike. For instance, what is a “key employee?”

A “key employee” is one who fits all three of the following criteria:
  1. $150,000 Test: Receives reportable compensation from the organization and all related organizations in excess of $150,000 for the calendar year ending with or within the organization’s tax year.
  2. Responsibility Test: At any time during the calendar year ending with or within the organization’s tax year:
    1. Has responsibilities, powers, or influence over the organization as a whole that is similar to those of officers, directors, or trustees;
    2. Manages a discrete segment or activity of the organization that represents 10% or more of the activities, assets, income, or expenses of the organization, as compared to the organization as a whole; or
    3. Has or shares authority to control or determine 10% or more of the organization’s capital expenditures, operating budget, or compensation for employees.
  3. Top 20 Test: Is one of the 20 employees other than officers, directors, and trustees who satisfy the $150,000 Test and Responsibility Test with the highest reportable compensation from the organization and related organizations for the calendar year ending with or within the organization’s tax year.

For further reference, see Part VII of the IRS 990 Instructions. Also, Guidestar publishes many informative blogs on IRS reporting requirements and Simple Charity Registration is also always here to help.