CalNonprofits Articles

You're not alone! But we have a resource that can help: the Nonprofit Compliance Checklist. It outlines the who, when, and what of compliance rules for nonprofits in California, all in one place, with links to the forms, instructions, and frequently asked questions. We created this resource because we’ve received a lot of questions from nonprofits wondering if there was a list with all of the state and federal compliance requirements they need to meet. We’re proud to say more than one nonprofit staff person has said: “thank you for saving me all the work of tracking these down myself!”

The checklist was developed by CalNonprofits in consultation with the California Attorney General’s Office.


Want to see a presentation on these requirements? You can watch a webinar with Erin Bradrick, Senior Counsel at NEO Law Group and Jan Masaoka, CEO of CalNonprofits. The webinar is free for CalNonprofits members and $10 for not-yet-members. Click here for more information and to order the webinar recording.

California nonprofits have many forms to file each year, some with various departments of the State of California, others with the federal IRS.

Key state offices include:

  • California Franchise Tax Board: determines -- along with the federal IRS -- whether an organization qualifies for state tax-exemption and whether donations may be tax-deductible.
  • California Secretary of State: oversees requirements for transacting business within California.
  • Attorney General's office: regulates the registration and reporting requirements for charities and fundraisers operating in California through its Registry of Charitable Trusts (Registry). Lawyers and auditors in its legal division investigate complaints and enforce laws related to nonprofits.

Not sure if your organization is current with your state filings?

To find out if you have missed any state filings, go to this page at the California State Registry of Charitable Trusts. Type in the name of your nonprofit and it will show you as being "Current," "Delinquent," "Not Registered," or "Suspended." (Tip: If the database doesn't find your organization, try using your FEIN rather than your name. And the database can take up to two minutes to return a search result, so be patient!)

If your organization is listed as suspended or delinquent by the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts, review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on curing delinquency or use this link to email the Attorney General's office and ask for assistance. Our members have found the AG's staff to be cordial and helpful. Please be aware that failure to remedy delinquencies may lead to the issuance of penalties and even revocation of your tax-exempt status.

To find the complete list of forms and requirements, click here. We make every effort to ensure that the list and links are up to date but we aren't perfect, so if you find something wrong, please let us know!

We’re grateful to our members whose dues help support the creation of resources like the checklist (one of the most visited pages on our website). If your organization is not yet a member, find out more about the benefits we offer, including insurance for the organization and for staff, free webinars and recordings, discounts on goods and services, and more!

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