Washington Nonprofit Compliance

Required annual filings

This guide covers the required filings to maintain a nonprofit corporation in Washington. If you are looking to form nonprofit in Washington, please visit our Start Your Washington Nonprofit guide. The steps below apply to nonprofits that are both incorporated and foreign qualified in Washington. 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 Washington Corporate Tax Returns
Agency:Washington Department of Revenue
Form:

Combined Excise Tax Return 

Instructions:

Nonprofit Organizations Industry Guide

Due:

January 31

Fact Checked:9/4/15
3 File Washington Corporate Tax Exemption Renewals

Not required



In Washington, nonprofit organizations are generally taxed like any other business. They must pay business and occupation (B&O) tax on gross revenues generated from regular business activities they conduct. They must pay sales tax on all goods and retail services they purchase as consumers, such as supplies, lodging, equipment, and construction services. In addition, nonprofit organizations must collect and remit retail sales tax on their sales of goods and retail services.

More information: Washington Department of Revenue
4 File Washington Sales Tax Exemption Renewals

Not required



Washington does not currently have a state level sales tax.

More information: Washington Department of Revenue
5 File Washington Property Tax Exemption Renewals
Agency:Washington Department of Revenue
Instructions:

Washington Department of Revenue Nonprofit Organizations Industry Guide

Due:

March 31

Notes:

The Department of Revenue will mail a postcard to each applicant annually in January reminding the applicant to renew their exemption.

Fact Checked:9/4/15
6 File Washington Annual Review
Agency:Washington Secretary of State - Corporations Division
Form:

Paper Annual Report

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$10

Due:

By the end of the registration anniversary month. So if you incorporated or foreign-qualified on March 15, then your annual report is due every year by March 31. You may start filing 45 days prior.

Law:

RCW § 24.03.395

Penalties:

$25 late fee. Your business also risks being dissolved or revoked.

Notes:
  • Anyone with authority may file.
  • Original signatures are not required.
  • Expedited service is available for an additional $50.
Fact Checked:8/6/20
7 Renew the Charitable Solicitation Registration

Washington Charitable Organization Registration

Agency:Washington Secretary of State - Charities Program
Law:

Washington Revised Code Annotated §19.09.020 and following; Washington Administrative Code §434-120-100 through 434-120-175

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

Automatic Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • Organizations that raise less than $50,000 from the public in any accounting year when all the activities of the organization, including all fundraising activities, are performed by volunteers
  • Appeals for funds on behalf of a specific individual named in the solicitation, but only if all of the proceeds of the solicitation are given to or expended for the direct benefit of that individual
  • Churches and their integrated auxiliaries
  • Political organizations
Law:

RCW 19.09.020 and RCW 19.09.081

Notes:

Exempt organizations can elect to file an Optional Registration for Charitable Organization application with the secretary of state.

Fact Checked:1/16/20

Initial Registration

Form:

Charitable Organization Registration / Renewal (Including the WA State Combined Fund Drive)

Instructions:

Washington Charitable Organization Registration Instructions

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$60 + optional $50 expedite fee for 2-3 business day processing. ($0 if exempt)

Turnaround:

1 week

Notes:
  • The URS is no longer accepted as of September 12, 2014.
  • Some Washington 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 Washington, 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 Washington Secretary of State - Corporations Division.
  2. Submit a Charitable Organization Registration form and all required attachments to the Washington Secretary of State - Charities Program.

Foreign Applicants:

  1. Determine whether or not your charity will need to foreign qualify based on your activity in Washington. If not required, skip to number 3.
  2. File foreign qualification documents with the Washington Secretary of State - Corporations Division.
  3. Submit a Charitable Organization Registration form and all required attachments to the Washington Secretary of State - Charities Program.
Required Attachments:

  • IRS determination letter
  • List of officers and directors
  • Professional fundraising contracts
  • List of other states where registered to solicit
Fact Checked:4/14/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Charitable Organization Registration / Renewal

Instructions:

Washington Charitable Organization Registration Instructions

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$40 + optional $50 expedite fee for 2-3 business day processing

Due:

Renewal is due annually 11 months after the close of your fiscal year. So if your fiscal calendar ends December 31, then renewal is due by November 30.

Due Date Extension:

No extensions are available for charitable registration due dates.

Penalties:

There is a late fee of $50.

Notes:
  • The late fee is assessed by the received date, not the postmarked date. The state accepts overnight/express mail at a different mailing address.
  • Attach your annual financial report.
  • The URS is no longer accepted as of September 12, 2014.
Required Attachments:

  • List of officers and directors
  • Professional fundraising contracts
  • List of other states where registered to solicit
Fact Checked:2/4/20

Contract Filing

Form:

Fundraising Service Contract Registration

Agency Fee:

$20

Due:

Before a charitable organization may contract with a commercial fund-raiser for any fund-raising service or activity, the charitable organization and commercial fund-raiser shall complete and file a registration form with the secretary. The registration must be filed by the charitable organization on the form approved by the secretary.

Fact Checked:8/5/19

Change of Fiscal Year

Form:

Charitable Organization Amendment

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$0 by mail or $20 online.

Turnaround:

1-2 business days

Fact Checked:12/7/18

Cancellation

Form:

Charitable Organization Closure

Agency Fee:

$0

Notes:

To close out your registration, submit a closure application with the required attachments.

Fact Checked:7/14/20
8Maintain a Washington Registered Agent

Maintain a registered agent that has a street address in Washington. 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 Spokane , WA to maintain compliance with the state requirement.


Continue reading

Fundraising Compliance

Learn how to stay compliant with charitable solicitation laws.

Read the guide
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