Unified Registration Statement
- Definition - Unified Registration Statement (URS)
- A consolidated registration form intended to assist nonprofits who need to file charitable registration in multiple jurisdictions. Several jurisdictions do not accept it, and the ones that do often require additional attachments. Disclaimer: We’re mentioning the URS here to be as comprehensive as possible. However, we’ve found in our own work that better outcomes can be achieved by filing state-specific applications. Examiners process them faster, and they are less complex than the URS.
The process to apply for charitable registration is generally the same whether you use the URS or not. It is accomplished in four broad steps: Research, Apply, Monitor, and Renew.
- Verify the status of your organization prior to filing. Organizations registering for the first time need to check their eligibility for exemption.
- Identify potential prerequisites and ancillary requirements. Certain jurisdictions may require the nonprofit corporation to foreign qualify with the secretary of state or appoint a registered agent.
- Identify the filing fee and the payment method expected by the jurisdiction in question.
- Compile supplemental documents, such as the most recent Form 990, IRS determination letter, and your organization’s audited or reviewed financials.
- Identify the appropriate forms on the charities bureau website.
Prepare each jurisdiction's filing
Filing methods will vary depending on the jurisdiction. Paper applications, fillable digital forms, and online filing portals are potential options.
- Complete the forms using the preferred medium.
- Include each jurisdiction's required attachments.
- Include payment to the jurisdiction. Be cognizant of the payment method. Jurisdictions often accept only specific methods.
- Provide the appropriate authorized signatures per jurisdiction requirements (some jurisdictions require specific signers and notarization). Beware of using a power of attorney to sign the forms. Some jurisdictions won’t allow them.
- Submit the application to each filing authority.
Approval of applications can take anywhere from two weeks to 12 months. In the interim, organizations should ensure the applications were properly received and that filing fee checks were cashed. First-time applicants may need to resubmit rejected applications and contend with errors made by the charities bureaus. Additionally, some sort of tracking system for registration information and renewal dates will need to be created.
- As you receive approvals, store licenses and other important documents in your records.
- Update your calendar of renewals for the next year. In some jurisdictions this will fluctuate with the date you receive approval.
- Ensure your disclosure statements are up-to-date.
- Some jurisdictions require you to have records available to potential donors (e.g. financials) for public scrutiny. Ensure these are readily available and up-to-date as required by law.
As with initial registrations, a certain amount of research will need to be done prior to filing renewal applications. Applicants must determine the appropriate fee, which is usually based on revenue or contributions, and compile the required supporting documentation. Keep in mind renewal processes and fee schedules may differ from those for initial registration. The key difference between initial and renewal filings is that renewal filings have a hard-and-fast deadline. Maintaining awareness of these deadlines is imperative, as charities bureaus may assess penalties for missed due dates.
Extensions may need to be filed ahead of an organization’s renewal application if the 990 isn’t ready prior to the due date. This process is generally similar to filing an 8868 extension with the IRS, but there is some variation by jurisdiction.Continue reading “Charitable Disclosures”