The IRS provides tax exemptions to eligible nonprofits under IRC 501(c). Public charities and private foundations receive 501(c)(3) tax exemption. The IRS scrutinizes organizations when they apply for 501(c)(3) but also ensures that those organizations meet the ongoing obligations to remain eligible. Nonprofits must file a 990 tax form each year with the IRS to disclose their financial data for the year.
Each state has their own set of requirements. Nonprofits are typically incorporated in a given state as a nonprofit corporation. The state in which the nonprofit has incorporated will impose requirements on the nonprofit, and those responsibilities typically span across multiple state agencies. Usually nonprofits must submit an annual filing to the corporations division of the secretary of state, maintain its license to fundraise (charitable solicitation registration), file for a state business license, and maintain state-level tax exemption with the revenue department. As nonprofits expand outside of the state or operate nationwide, they must comply with the same items in each other state as well.
In addition to IRS and state filing requirements, nonprofits must keep adequate records. Keeping accurate and complete records is critical in the event that an organization is audited. It is also common that board members or donors request information from the organization. Finally, records are necessary for submitting applications and renewal filings with various government agencies.
If you need more assistance with charitable solicitation requirements, we recommend working with Harbor Compliance.