Tennessee Nonprofit Compliance

Required annual filings

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

Not required



Nonprofits are generally not subject to business, franchise, and professional privilege taxes.

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

Not required



Every fourth year the department issues new exemption certificates to nonprofits. No application is required, but organization information must be kept up to date.

More information: Tennessee Department of Revenue
4 File Tennessee Annual Report
Agency:Tennessee Secretary of State - Division of Business Services
Form:

Prepare your form online then print and mail.

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$20 + optional $2.25 online filing fee

Due:

By the 1st day of the 4th month after the close of your fiscal year. Usually your fiscal year ends on December 31 and so your annual report is due April 1.

Law:

Tenn. Code Ann. § 48-66-203

Original Ink:Not required
Notarize:Not required
Penalties:

No late fee. You will get a notice of pending dissolution or revocation and then you have 60 days to comply.

Notes:
  • An authorized officer, member, or partner may file.
  • Original signatures are not required.
  • If you need to change your registered agent, pay an extra $20 fee.
Fact Checked:8/6/20
5 Renew the Charitable Solicitation Registration

Tennessee Charitable Organization Registration

Agency:Tennessee Secretary of State - Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming
Law:

Tennessee Code Annotated §48-101-501 and following

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

Automatic Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • Bona fide religious institutions
  • An organization organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes and which normally maintains a regular faculty and curriculum and normally has a regularly enrolled body of pupils or students in attendance at the place where its educational activities are regularly carried on, and which is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency. Included in such definition are organizations composed of parents of students and other persons connected with the institution, which are organized and operated for the purpose of conducting activities in support of the operations or extracurricular activities of such institutions. “Educational institution” also includes private foundations soliciting contributions exclusively for such organizations.
  • Cooperative scholarship corporations regulated by title 49, chapter 4, part 1
  • Volunteer fire departments, rescue squads or local civil defense organizations
  • Community fairs, county fairs, district fairs and division fairs, as defined in § 43-21-104, that have been qualified by the commissioner of agriculture to receive state aid grants, pursuant to title 43, chapter 21, part 1
  • Political parties, candidates for federal or state office, and political action committees required to file financial information with federal or state election commissions
  • Hospitals and nursing homes that are subject to regulation by the Tennessee Department of Health
  • Any corporation established by an act of congress of the United States that is required by federal law to submit annual reports of its activities to congress containing itemized accounts of all receipts and expenditures after being fully audited by the department of defense
Law:

Tenn. Code Ann. § 48-101-502

Fact Checked:1/16/20

Registration to Obtain Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:

Charities with less than $50,000 in gross contributions during the preceding fiscal year

Form:

Form SS-6042: Annual Request for $50,000 and Under Exemption

Agency Fee:

$0

Notes:

Charities must register within 30 days if they exceed $50,000 in contributions.

Fact Checked:2/3/20

Renewal to Maintain Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:

Charities with less than $50,000 in gross contributions during the preceding fiscal year

Form:

Form SS-6042: Annual Request for $50,000 and Under Exemption (Renewal)

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Annually within 6 months of the organization's fiscal year end.

Fact Checked:2/3/20

Initial Registration

Form:

Form SS-6001: Application for Registration of a Charitable Organization

Instructions:

Filing instructions for registration of a charitable organization

Filing Method:

Online or mail.

Agency Fee:

$50

Turnaround:

1 month

Notes:
  • The CFO and another officer must sign. Signatures need not be notarized.
  • Remember to attach the Summary of Financial Activities form. If your nonprofit registers during its first year, it must file a quarterly financial report.
  • Some Tennessee 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 Tennessee, obtain a certificate of good standing from your home state to submit during the foreign qualification process. The certificate cannot be more than 2 months old when filing foreign qualification documents.
How to Apply:

Domestic Applicants:

  1. File entity formation documents with the Tennessee Secretary of State - Division of Business Services.
  2. Submit an Application for Registration of a Charitable Organization, a quarterly or annual summary of financial activites form, and all required attachments to the Tennessee Secretary of State - Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming.

Foreign Applicants:

  1. Determine whether or not your charity will need to foreign qualify based on your activity in Tennessee. If not required, skip to number 3.
  2. File foreign qualification documents with the Tennessee Secretary of State - Division of Business Services.
  3. Submit an Application for Registration of a Charitable Organization, a quarterly or annual summary of financial activites form, and all required attachments to the Tennessee Secretary of State - Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming.
Required Attachments:

  • IRS form 990
  • Audited financials (if applicable)
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS determination letter
  • List of officers and directors
  • Professional fundraising contracts
Fact Checked:4/14/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Form SS-6002: Application to Renew Registration of a Charitable Organization

Instructions:

Filing instructions for renewing registration of a charitable organization

Filing Method:

Online or mail.

Agency Fee:

$80-240, depending on gross revenue

Due:

Renewal must be filed annually within 6 months after the close of your fiscal year. So if yoru fiscal year ends December 31, then file by June 30.

Due Date Extension:

Due dates can be extended for 150 days beyond the original due date by submitting a request for extension through the online portal. A copy of IRS form 8868 must be included when requesting an extension.

Penalties:

There is a late fee of $25 for each month that passes after the due date.

Notes:
  • The CFO and another officer must sign. Signatures need not be notarized.
  • Remember to attach the Summary of Financial Activities form
Required Attachments:

  • IRS form 990
  • Audited financials (if applicable)
  • List of officers and directors
  • Professional fundraising contracts
Fact Checked:2/4/20

Contract Filing

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Charities must submit copies of every contract they have with professional fundraisers, fundraising counsels, and commercial co-venturers during initial charitable registration and during charitable registration renewal.

Fact Checked:10/9/19

Change of Fiscal Year

Agency Fee:

$0

Turnaround:

1-2 business days

Notes:

Send the state a copy of the short IRS 990 once it is available.

Fact Checked:12/7/18

Cancellation

Form:

Notice of Intent to Cease Solicitation Activity

Agency Fee:

$0

Notes:

To close out your registration, submit a Notice of Intent to Cease Solicitations, the most recently filed IRS form 990, and a brief letter of explanation.

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

Maintain a registered agent that has a street address in Tennessee. 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 Memphis , TN to maintain compliance with the state requirement.


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Fundraising Compliance

Learn how to stay compliant with charitable solicitation laws.

Read the guide
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