California Nonprofit Compliance

Required annual filings

This guide covers the required filings to maintain a nonprofit corporation in California. If you are looking to form nonprofit in California, please visit our Start Your California Nonprofit guide. The steps below apply to nonprofits that are both incorporated and foreign qualified in California. Please note that this is a general list and may not be exhaustive or applicable to all nonprofits.

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1 File IRS Form 990
Agency:Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Form:

IRS Form 990-N, 990-EZ, 990-PF or 990

Instructions:

See Form 990 Thresholds to determine which form to file.  Then see Current Form 990 Series for instructions.

Due:

By the 15th day of the 5th month following the end of the taxable year.  For most organizations, the tax year ends December 31 so the Form 990 is due May 15.

Fact Checked:8/28/19
2 File California Corporate Tax Returns
Agency:California Franchise Tax Board
Form:

If your organization is tax-exempt for California purposes, you may need to file one or more of the following:

  • Form 199, California Exempt Organization Annual Information Return
  • FTB 199N, Annual Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Exempt Organizations (California e-Postcard)
  • Form 109, California Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return
  • Form 100, California Corporation Franchise or Income Tax Return.
Instructions:

See FTB introduction to Tax-Exempt Status Publication and FTB Pub 1068 Tax Exempt Organizations - Filing Requirements and Fees

Due:

 4.5 months after end of fiscal year.  So if your fiscal year ends December 31, the filing is due April 15.

Law:

California R&TC Section 18506, 23701r, 23701t, 23771, 23772, 23774

Penalties:

Tax-exempt status can be revoked. Organization's status can be suspended/forfeited. Once the corporation is suspended, it no longer has the protection of its corporate shield.  Interest accrues on unpaid taxes from the original due date of the return until the date payment is received. Interest is also charged on penalties.

3 File California Corporate Tax Exemption Renewals
Agency:California Franchise Tax Board
Form:

Form 199: Exempt Organization Annual Information Return

Agency Fee:

$10

Due:

Annually within 4.5 months of your fiscal year end.

Notes:

Most exempt organizations need to file an information return every year. Certain organizations are exempt from this filing requirement.

Fact Checked:4/25/17
4 File California Sales Tax Exemption Renewals

Not required



California does not offer blanket exemptions to nonprofits. Charities that qualify for an exemption under a specific type of sale may have ongoing requirements.

More information: California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
5 File California Statement of Information

If the nonprofit was formed in California (Domestic):

Agency:California Secretary of State - Business Programs Division
Form:

Form SI-100: Statement of Information - Nonprofit

Filing Method:

Mail, in-person, or online.

Agency Fee:

$20; Agricultural cooperative corporations: $25.

Turnaround:

Online version is filed in 1 business day.

Due:

Bienially by the end of the month when the Articles of Incorporation were initially filed. Can be submitted up to 5 months prior to this date.

Law:

California Corporations Code sections 6210 

Penalties:

$50 late penalty.

Notes:
  • We recommend filing online.
  • Every domestic nonprofit corporation formed to manage a common interest development under the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (for example, a homeowners’ association) must also file a Statement By Common Interest Development Association (Form SI-CID) together with the biennial Statement of Information.
  • Original signatures are not required.
  • Agricultural cooperative corporations file annually.
Fact Checked:9/10/18

If the nonprofit was formed outside of California (Foreign):

Agency:California Secretary of State - Business Programs Division
Form:

Form SI-550: Statement of Information - Foreign

Filing Method:

Mail, in-person, or online.

Agency Fee:

$25

Turnaround:

Online version is filed in 1 business day.

Due:

Annually by the end of the calendar month the Statement and Designation was initially filed in. Can be submitted up to 5 months ahead of this time.

Law:

California Corporations Code section 2117 

Penalties:

$250 late fee.

Fact Checked:9/10/18
6 Renew the Charitable Solicitation Registration

California Charitable Solicitation Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts
Law:

California Government Code § 12585; California Code of Regulations, Title 11 § 300

Foreign Qualification is Prerequisite:Yes
Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?No
Fact Checked:4/10/20

One-Time Exemption Registration

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • Religious organizations
  • Most educational institutions
  • Nonprofit hospitals
Notes:

If you believe you are exempt, make a request in writing to the California Attorney General's Office prior to soliciting. You will receive an exemption letter in return.

Fact Checked:1/16/20

Initial Registration

Form:

Form CT-1: Initial Registration Form

Instructions:

Initial Registration Guide

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$25

Turnaround:

2-3 months

Notes:
  • Your organization must register within 30 days of receiving assets (property, funds, etc) that are held in a trust.
  • Any authorized or director may sign. Signature need not be notarized.
  • Some California counties and municipalities may require charities that solicit in-person to register prior to fundraising.
Before you Apply:

Domestic Applicants:

  • Check the available exemptions to see if your charity is eligible for exemption from the full registration requirement.
  • Appoint a registered agent to receive legal documents in California.
  • If your charity meets the audit threshold, obtain an audited financial report to submit with your registration application.
  • Look through the list of required attachments and make sure that you have each required document in hand before starting the registration application.

Foreign Applicants:

  • Check the available exemptions to see if your charity is eligible for exemption from the full registration requirement.
  • Appoint a registered agent to receive legal documents in California.
  • If your charity meets the audit threshold, obtain an audited financial report to submit with your registration application.
  • Obtain a certificate of good standing from your home state (to be filed during the foreign qualification process). The certificate cannot be more than 6 months old when filing foreign qualification documents.
  • Look through the list of required attachments and make sure that you have each required document in hand before starting the registration application.
How to Apply:

Domestic Applicants:

  1. File formation documents with the California Secretary of State.
  2. File an exemption application with the California Franchise Tax Board to obtain a state tax exemption.
  3. Submit a completed Initial Registration Form and all required attachments to the California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts.

Foreign Applicants:

  1. File foreign qualification documents with the California Secretary of State.
  2. File an exemption application with the California Franchise Tax Board to obtain a state tax exemption.
  3. Submit a completed Initial Registration Form and all required attachments to the California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts.
Required Attachments:
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS determination letter
  • IRS form 1023
  • List of officers and directors
  • Professional fundraising contracts
  • Audited financials (if applicable)
Fact Checked:4/14/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Form RRF-1: Annual Registration Renewal Report; Charities with annual revenue under $50,000 must also file Form CT-TR-1: Annual Treasurer's Report

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$0-$300 depending on gross annual revenue.

Due:

Renewal is due annually 4 months and 15 days after the close of your organization's fiscal year. If your fiscal year closes December 31, then renewal is due May 15. 

Due Date Extension:

Due dates can be extended for 6 months beyond the original due date by attaching a copy of IRS form 8868 and an IRS-approved extension request when submitting your 990 and renewal form RRF-1.

Penalties:

Failure to submit renewal on time can result in loss of tax exemption and assessment of minimum tax of $800, plus interest, and/or fines or filing penalties. The Attorney General will notify the California Franchise Tax Board to disallow your state tax exemption. Directors, trustees, officers, and return preparers are personally liable for these fees and penalties - you cannot use charitable assets to pay them, they must be paid out of of pocket!

Notes:
  • Any authorized or director may sign. Signature need not be notarized.
Required Attachments:
  • IRS form 990
  • Audited financials (if applicable)
Fact Checked:2/4/20

Change of Fiscal Year

Form:

Form RRF-1: Annual Registration Renewal Report

Agency Fee:

Varies

Notes:

File the renewal application for the new fiscal year along with a letter stating that the organization has changed their fiscal reporting period.

Fact Checked:12/7/18

Cancellation

Form:

Form RRF-1: Annual Registration Renewal Report

Agency Fee:

$0-$300 depending on gross annual revenue.

Notes:

To close out your registration, file a final report with the required fee along with a letter explaining that you would like to cancel your registration. Domestic organizations must also submit proof of dissolution with Secretary of State and distribution of assets.

Fact Checked:7/14/20
7Maintain a California Registered Agent

Maintain a registered agent that has a street address in California. The registered agent is responsible for receiving legal documents such as service of process. Appointing a registered agent service is often preferable to listing an officer or director, as their information often changes. Consider using our registered agent service in Redding , CA to maintain compliance with the state requirement.


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Fundraising Compliance

Learn how to stay compliant with charitable solicitation laws.

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