Massachusetts Nonprofit Compliance

Required annual filings

This guide covers the required filings to maintain a nonprofit corporation in Massachusetts. If you are looking to form nonprofit in Massachusetts, please visit our Start Your Massachusetts Nonprofit guide. The steps below apply to nonprofits that are both incorporated and foreign qualified in Massachusetts. 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 Massachusetts Corporate Tax Exemption Renewals

Not required



There is no renewal requirement for Massachusetts corporate income tax exemption.

More information: Massachusetts Department of Revenue
3 File Massachusetts Sales Tax Exemption Renewals

Not required



Massachusetts does not have a renewal requirement for sales tax exemption, but organization information most be kept up to date.

More information: Massachusetts Department of Revenue
4 File Massachusetts Annual Report

If the nonprofit was formed in Massachusetts (Domestic):

Agency:Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth
Form:

Annual Report

Filing Method:

Mail, in-person, or online.

Agency Fee:

$15 for mail, $18.50 for online.

Due:

Annually by November 1.

Law:

M.G.L.A. c180 § 26A (1933); 950 CMR § 106.13

Notes:
  • Anyone with authority may file.
  • Original signatures are not required.
Fact Checked:9/10/18

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

Agency:Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth
Form:

Annual Report

Filing Method:

Mail, in-person, or online

Agency Fee:

$109 for online and $125 by mail.

Due:

Annually by two and a half months after the end of the organization's fiscal year.

Law:

M.G.L.A. c156D, § 16.22 (2004); 950 CMR 113.57.

Penalties:

$25 late fee.

Notes:
  • Anyone with authority may file.
  • Original signatures are not required.
Fact Checked:9/10/18
5 Renew the Charitable Solicitation Registration

Massachusetts Charity Registration

Agency:Massachusetts Attorney General - Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division
Law:

Massachusetts General Laws Ch 12, §8e and 8f; Ch 68 §18 through 35

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

Automatic Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • An organization that is primarily religious in purpose and falls under the regulations 940 CMR 2.00
  • An organization that does not raise or receive contributions from the public in excess of $5,000 during a calendar year or does not receive contributions from more than ten persons during a calendar year, if all of their functions, including fundraising activities, are performed by persons who are not paid for their services and if no part of their assets or income inures to the benefit of, or is paid to, any officer or members
Fact Checked:1/16/20

Initial Registration

Form:

Charity Registration Form (and Form PC if filing after the initial fiscal year end date of the charity).

Filing Method:

Mail or email.

Agency Fee:

Initial registration fee of $100 plus:

  • $50 Schedule A-2 fee for organizations registering before their initial fiscal year end date, or
  • $35-$2,000 (depending on gross support and revenue) for organizations registering in subsequent fiscal years
Turnaround:

4-6 months

Notes:
  • As of September 2014, the Short Form PC is no longer being accepted as a registration document.
  • The President and another officer or trustee must sign. Signatures need not be notarized.
  • Some Massachusetts 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you will foreign qualify in Massachusetts, obtain a certificate of good standing from your home state to submit during the foreign qualification process. The certificate cannot be more than 60 days old when filing foreign qualification documents.
How to Apply:

Domestic Applicants:

  1. File entity formation documents with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  2. Submit a Charity Registration Form, Form PC (if applicable), and all required attachments to the Massachusetts Attorney General - Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division.

Foreign Applicants:

  1. Determine whether or not your charity will need to foreign qualify based on your activity in Massachusetts. If not required, skip to number 3.
  2. File foreign qualification documents with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  3. Submit a Charity Registration Form, Form PC (if applicable), and all required attachments to the Massachusetts Attorney General - Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division.
Required Attachments:
  • IRS form 990
  • Audited financials (if applicable)
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS determination letter
  • List of officers and directors
Fact Checked:4/14/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Form PC. Even exempt organizations must file.

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$35-$2,000, depending on gross support and revenue.

Due:

Due annually by 4.5 months after the close of your nonprofit's fiscal year. So if your fiscal calendar ends December 31, then the renewal is due May 15.

Due Date Extension:

Due dates can be extended for 6 months beyond the original due date by emailing charitiesextensions@state.ma.us with an explanation of your request for extension.

Notes:
  • Attach a copy of your IRS Form 990
  • Charities raising $200K+ must submit a financial statement
Required Attachments:

  • IRS form 990
  • Audited financials (if applicable)
  • List of officers and directors
  • Only if amended: IRS determination letter, articles of incorporation, and bylaws
Fact Checked:2/4/20

Change of Fiscal Year

Form:

Form PC

Notes:

Send a cover letter explaining the change in fiscal year along with the Form PC and a copy of the amended Articles of Incorporation.

Fact Checked:12/7/18

Cancellation

Agency Fee:

$0

Notes:

To close out your registration, submit a letter indicating the desire to withdraw and include the date Massachusetts solicitations will end. If soliciting took place in a partial fiscal year, submit a renewal for that year.

Fact Checked:7/14/20
6Maintain a Massachusetts Registered Agent

Maintain a registered agent that has a street address in Massachusetts. 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 Pittsfield , MA to maintain compliance with the state requirement.

Harbor Compliance® proudly partners with the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network to provide insightful resources and compliance solutions to nonprofits in Massachusetts.



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