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This checklist was developed by CalNonprofits in consultation with the California Attorney General’s Office and the CA Franchise Tax Board. Although we make every effort to identify errors and fix broken links, please help us keep up-to-date by contacting us if you find errors.

Have you ever wished for a better way to keep track of your nonprofit’s compliance responsibilities every year? You’re not alone. That’s why CalNonprofits has compiled this handy comprehensive checklist to help nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations -- charities -- keep up-to-date with annual filing requirements. Find them here, all in one place, with links to the resources you need if you have questions.

Download a PDF of the Checklist here.

Want to see a presentation on these requirements? You can watch a webinar with Erin Bradrick, Senior Counsel at NEO Law Group, held January 2024. 


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.

To find out if you have missed any state filings, go to this page at the Registriy of Charities & Fundraisers (formerly 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 remedying 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 penalties and even revocation of your tax-exempt status. 

Note: A 501(c)3 nonprofit is called a "charity" in legal forms.

Flag of CaliforniaCalifornia Forms

Forms for all 501(c)(3) nonprofits

Checkbox graphic1. All charities, regardless of receipts or assets (except those specifically exempted such as religious congregations, hospitals, and schools) must file the Annual Registration Renewal Fee Report (RRF-1 Form) no later than four months and 15 days after the close of the organization’s calendar or fiscal year (e.g., if the fiscal year ends on December 31, this form is due on May 15). The purpose of Form RRF-1 is to help the Attorney General’s Office detect fiscal mismanagement and unlawful use of charitable assets. This form requires a fee of between $25 and $1,200 based on your organization's total revenue that year.

Note: The RRR-1 requires that you attach a copy of your 990, 990EZ, 990PF, 1120, or submit a treasurer's report (Form CT-TR-1).

Nonprofits with gross receipts of less than $50,000 in a fiscal year must file the Annual Treasurer's Report (CT-TR-1 Form and Instructions) along with Form RRF-1 when they renew their registration with the Attorney General's office.

Checkbox graphic2. Nonprofit with gross receipts of more than $50,000 in the year must file the Exempt Organization Annual Information Return (FTB Form 199) (Instructions) – This is the State of California’s annual return. This form must be filed on or before the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of your organization’s fiscal year (for example, if the year ends December 31, the form is due no later than May 15). Private foundations are required to file Form 199 regardless of the gross receipts amount. 

If your nonprofit had $50,000 or less in gross receipts, instead of Form 199 you should file the Annual Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Exempt Organizations FTB 199N (the "California e-Postcard"). This no-cost form has the same due dates as FTB Form 199. (And see note above related to CT-TR-1 that must be filed with the CT-TR-1).

Extension of time to file: Unless your organization is under suspension on the due date of the 199 or the 199N, you will be given an automatic extension of six months. No need to apply for the extension.

Checkbox graphic3. All California nonprofits must file the Statement of Information (Form SI-100) every two years – with the Secretary of State. The form may be filed electronically and has a fee of $20. This form is first due within six months of filing the initial Articles of Incorporation and thereafter is due every two years during the calendar month that the Articles of Incorporation were filed and can be filed up to five months in advance of that date. (For example, if your organization was formed in March of 2016 by filing your Articles of Incorporation, then you must file SI-100 in March of 2016, 2018, 2020, 2022, and so forth.)

Forms for some nonprofits

Checkbox graphic4. Nonprofits with employees or independent contractors: When it comes to employment laws and regulations, nonprofits and for-profits have almost all the same rules. See the “Forms and Due Dates” section of the California Employer’s Guide.

Checkbox graphic5. Nonprofits seeking a "welfare exemption" from property taxes must file the annual California Board of Equalization Form 267-A  with your County Assessor. (Note this is a sample form; the actual form is available through your county assessor.) A list of county assessors' contact information is here.

Checkbox graphic6. If your organization has filed IRS Form 5768 in order to make and report on limited political or legislative activities during the year, you must file the Political or Legislative Activities by Section 23701d Organizations Form (Form 3509). This form is where such activities are reported, and it must be attached to Form 199. 

Checkbox graphic7. Nonprofits with unrelated business income (UBI), must file Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (FTB Form 109) (Instructions)  – This form must be filed for years when you had gross income of more than $1,000 from a trade or business unrelated to your exempt purpose. The form must be filed on or before the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of the fiscal year (for example, if the year ends June 30, the form is due no later than November 15).

Checkbox graphic8. Nonprofits that sold items in California, or purchased items but did not pay sales tax (for example, through the internet):

For the most part, nonprofits must follow the same rules as others when it comes to sales tax and use tax. There are some detailed and specific exemptions for nonprofits, with special rules pertaining, for example, to museums purchasing art, friends of libraries selling books, veterans organizations selling American flags, thrift stores benefiting people with AIDS or HIV, sales of food at youth sports events with free admission, and so forth. See this Tax Guide for Nonprofit Organizations from the California Department of Taxes and Fees (CDTFA) for the complete set of rules and a list of required forms.

9. Nonprofits that had a raffle or that are planning a raffle: 

Checkbox graphicNonprofit Raffles Checklist - A checklist of forms and deadlines for nonprofits conducting a raffle

Checkbox graphicNonprofit Raffle Registration Form (CT-NRP-1) - Submitted by nonprofits planning to conduct a raffle from September 1 through August 31. This form must be submitted and approved before conducting a raffle (plan for it to take 30 days).

Checkbox graphicNonprofit Raffle Report (CT-NRP-2) - Use this form to report all raffles conducted during the reporting year. This form is due on or before October 1. If you registered to hold a raffer but did not do so, you must still file a Nonprofit Raffle Report stationg that you did not have a raffle).

Checkbox graphicNonprofit bingo, charity poker, or “Monte Carlo” night? These games use devices (unlike raffles) and so are regulated by the Bureau of Gambling Control in the State Department of Justice (see the laws here). Pre-approval is required (estimate 30 days for the approval process). Not all California counties permit these games, and some may have additional rules. The Charitable Gambling Registration form can be filed online and requires a $100 fee.

Flag of the United StatesU.S. Federal Forms

U.S. Federal Government: Internal Revenue Service

All nonprofits must annually file one of the following three forms:

Checkbox graphicReturn of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990) (Instructions) – This is the federal government’s annual information return for tax-exempt organizations. The form must be filed on or before the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of the organization’s taxable year (e.g., if the year ends December 31, the form is due no later than May 15).

Checkbox graphicShort form Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-EZ) (Instructions) – Tax-exempt organizations with gross receipts less than $200,000 and total assets at the end of the tax year less than $500,000 can opt to file this form rather than Form 990. The form must be filed on or before the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of the organization’s taxable year (e.g., if the year ends December 31, the form is due no later than May 15).

Checkbox graphicAnnual Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Exempt Organizations (Form 990-N) – This is the federal government’s annual information return for tax-exempt organizations that normally have gross receipts of $50,000 or less. The form must be filed on or before the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of the organization’s taxable year (e.g., if the year ends December 31, the form is due no later than May 15); extended due dates are not applicable.

If you are a private foundation, you must file Form 990PF. (Instructions)


If you have unrelated business income, file Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (Form 990-T) (Instructions) – Form 990-T is used by a tax-exempt organization to report unrelated business income if it has gross income of $1,000 or more from a regularly conducted unrelated trade or business. The form must be filed on or before the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of the organization’s taxable year (e.g., if the year ends December 31, the form is due no later than May 15).

Please note that the above list does not include forms related to employees, healthcare provision, facility management, or other forms not specifically for nonprofits.

Other Useful Resources

CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL FORMS

Additional forms and recommended publications are available through the Attorney General’s website:

• Search for a nonprofit and see if you are up-to-date on filing state forms: Registry of Charitable Trusts - This is the search page for the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts.

Complaint to the California Attorney General regarding a charity or charitable solicitation – This form can be used to file a complaint for misuse of charitable assets or fraudulent fundraising practices.

Attorney General’s Guide for Charities – Provides practical information and answers to questions frequently asked about charities and summarizes some of the laws governing nonprofits.

Initial Registration with the Registry of Charitable Assets (Form CT-1) – Form used by all charitable corporations to register with the Registry of Charitable Assets. The form is due within 30 days of initially receiving assets.

• Fundraising firms – There are two forms related to "commercial fundraisers" (Form CT-1CF) and "fundraising counsel" Form CT-3CF). "Commercial fundraisers" can be individuals or firms who solicit donations on your behalf, and often collect the funds before passing them on to you. "Fundraising counsel" help plan and manage solicitations, but do not ask for donations themselves nor do they receive donations on your behalf. Each type must register with the Registry of Charitable Trusts before beginning work with you. Note that the fundraiser or counsel must file these forms, not the nonprofit. You can refer them to this page with more information.

General Guide for Dissolving a Nonprofit Corporation – Outlines the steps that should be taken to dissolve (close down) a California nonprofit organization.

CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE FORMS

Some of the forms available through the Secretary of State website:

Amendment of a California Nonprofit Corporation’s Articles of Incorporation – This form is used to amend provisions of the Articles of Incorporation.

Registration of an Unincorporated Nonprofit AssociationForm used to register an unincorporated nonprofit association.
 

CALIFORNIA FRANCHISE TAX BOARD

Information Page for Exempt Organizations

California Franchise Tax Board Exempt Organizations Forms

• When you are first applying for California tax exempt status: File Form 3500A (Instructions) if you have already received a determination letter from the IRS; if not file Form 3500.
 

BOARD OF EQUALIZATION: PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION

Nonprofit Property Tax Exemption – Real and personal property owned by certain nonprofit organizations may be exempt from California Property Tax. This tax exemption is known as the welfare exemption and is managed by the Board of Equalization and the County Assessors offices. You must apply to Assessor's Office in your county. Learn more about the exemption here; and here is a list of county assessors.
 

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE FORMS Information Page for Charitable Organizations

Before Applying for Tax Exempt Status

Applying for tax exempt status

• Organizations seeking federal 501(c)(30 status must apply using either Form 1023 or Form 1023EZ. Either must be filed electronically at www.pay.gov. To see if you are eligible for Form 1023EZ check here (generally that you expect to have annual revenue of less than $50,000).
 

FROM CALNONPROFITS

How To Start a California Nonprofit

Causes Count: A Report on the Economic Power of California's Nonprofit Sector
 

This resource is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. CalNonprofits encourages nonprofits to seek assistance from qualified professionals for guidance on what federal and state and filing obligations. If you find something in error or that needs clarification, please let us know by emailing us here

A special thanks to Tania Ibanez and her team at the California State Attorney General's Office, Audrey Rowe of the Exempt Organizations and Nonprofits Unit of the Franchise Tax Board, and Elizabeth Ponsano and Rosemary Fei at AdlerColvin.

The California Association of Nonprofits -– CalNonprofits -– is a statewide "chamber of commerce" for nonprofits. With more than 10,000 members, CalNonprofits is a voice for nonprofits to government, the philanthropic community, and the general public. In addition, CalNonprofits provides resources such as this Compliance Checklist in the space where government and nonprofits meet. CalNonprofits members enjoy extensive benefits including access to an array of affordable employee health care plans, D&O insurance, workers compensation insurance, and discounts on office supplies, background checks, HR resource library, and more.



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