North Carolina Nonprofit Compliance

Required annual filings

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

View Guide Contents
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 North Carolina Corporate Tax Exemption Renewals

Not required



There is no renewal requirement for North Carolina corporate income tax exemption.

More information: North Carolina Department of Revenue
3 File North Carolina Sales Tax Returns
Agency:North Carolina Department of Revenue
Form:

Form E-585 (Sales Tax Refund)

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

April 15th and October 15th

Fact Checked:9/4/15
4 File North Carolina Sales Tax Exemption Renewals

Not required



More information: North Carolina Department of Revenue
5 File North Carolina Annual Report

Not required



More information: North Carolina Secretary of State - Business Registration Division
6 Renew the Charitable Solicitation Registration

North Carolina Charitable or Sponsor Organization Solicitation License

Agency:North Carolina Secretary of State - Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division
Law:

North Carolina General Statutes §§ 131 F-2 to 131f-8. CSL Statute and Rule Reference

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

Automatic Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • Religious organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Any hospital licensed pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 131E or Article 2 of Chapter 122C of the General Statutes
  • Any noncommercial radio or television station
  • A qualified community trust as provided in 26 C.F.R. § 1.170A-9(e)(10) through (e)(14)
  • A volunteer fire department, REACT (Radio Emergency Associated Communications Teams), rescue squad, or emergency medical service
  • A Young Men's Christian Association or a Young Women's Christian Association
  • A nonprofit continuing care facility licensed under Article 64 of Chapter 58 of the General Statutes
  • Any tax exempt nonprofit fire or emergency medical service organization involved in the sale of goods or services that does not ask for a donation
Fact Checked:1/16/20

One-Time Exemption Registration

Exemption Eligible Organizations:

Educational institutions

Form:

Questionnaire for Exemption Under 131F-3(4)

Agency Fee:

$0

Law:

NC Stat § 131F-3(3)

Fact Checked:1/16/20

Registration to Obtain Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:

Charities with less than $25,000 in contributions in any calendar year

Form:

Request for Exemption Under 131F-3(3)

Agency Fee:

$0

Fact Checked:8/15/18

Renewal to Maintain Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:

Charities with less than $25,000 in contributions in any calendar year

Form:

Request for Exemption Under 131F-3(3) (Renewal)

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Annually within 4.5 months after the organization's fiscal year end.

Fact Checked:8/15/18

Initial Registration

Form:

Initial / Renewal License Application for Charities or Sponsors

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$0-200, depending on contributions

Turnaround:

2-3 weeks

Notes:
  • Note the list of attachments required.
  • The CFO / treasurer must sign and it must be notarized.
  • Some North Carolina 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 North Carolina, obtain a certificate of good standing from your home state to submit during the foreign qualification process. The certificate cannot be more than 6 months old when filing foreign qualification documents.
How to Apply:

Domestic Applicants:

  1. File entity formation documents with the North Carolina Secretary of State - Business Registration Division.
  2. Submit an Initial License Application for Charities or Sponsors and all required attachments to the North Carolina Secretary of State - Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division.

Foreign Applicants:

  1. Determine whether or not your charity will need to foreign qualify based on your activity in North Carolina. If not required, skip to number 3.
  2. File foreign qualification documents with the North Carolina Secretary of State - Business Registration Division.
  3. Submit an Initial License Application for Charities or Sponsors and all required attachments to the North Carolina Secretary of State - Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division.
Required Attachments:

  • Either IRS form 990 or audited financials
  • IRS determination letter
  • List of officers and directors
  • Professional fundraising contracts
  • A certificate of good standing from the organization's home state
Fact Checked:4/14/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Initial / Renewal License Application for Charities or Sponsors

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$0-200, depending on contributions

Due:

Renewal is due annually 4.5 months after the close of your fiscal year. So if your fiscal year ends December 31, renewal is due May 15.

Due Date Extension:

Due dates are automatically extended for 60 days beyond the original due date.

Penalties:

$25 for each month that passes after the due date. Capped at $900.

Notes:
  • Note the list of attachments required (including annual financial report).
Required Attachments:

  • Either IRS form 990 or audited financials
  • List of officers and directors
  • Professional fundraising contracts
  • Certificate of good standing in home state
Fact Checked:2/4/20

Contract Filing

Form:

Fund Raising Disclosure Form for Charities or Sponsors

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Charities must submit a disclosure form for each contract they have with fundraising consultants, professional solicitors, and commercial co-venturers during initial charitable registration and with charitable renewal filings.

Notes:

Copies of contracts do not need to be submitted, but the disclosure form asks for a variety of contract details.

Change of Fiscal Year

Form:

Initial / Renewal License Application for Charities or Sponsors

Agency Fee:

Varies

Notes:

Fiscal year can be changed during the standard renewal process.

Fact Checked:12/7/18

Cancellation

Agency Fee:

$0

Notes:

Submit a letter signed by an authorized officer or member of the organization along with an IRS form 990, audited financial statement, or a completed Annual Financial Report Form for the immediately preceding fiscal year.

Fact Checked:7/14/20
7Maintain a North Carolina Registered Agent

Maintain a registered agent that has a street address in North Carolina. 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 Raleigh , NC to maintain compliance with the state requirement.


Continue reading

Fundraising Compliance

Learn how to stay compliant with charitable solicitation laws.

Read the guide
© 2012 - 2020 Harbor Compliance. All rights reserved. Harbor Compliance does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice. Use of our services does not create an attorney-client relationship. Harbor Compliance is not acting as your attorney and does not review information you provide to us for legal accuracy or sufficiency. Access to our website is subject to our Terms of Use and Service Agreement.