Registering your nonprofit to solicit donations in a state is usually only beginning of the state compliance process. In all but a handful of states, your initial registration will expire after a specified time and will need to be renewed. All states also require periodic filing of financial reports.
Renewing your state charitable solicitation registration involves completing and filing a renewal application by the renewal deadline. You’ll also need to include copies of any changes to the documents you filed with your initial registration, such as amendments to your articles of incorporation or new contracts with fundraisers. Most states charge a renewal fee, which is often the same as the fee for the initial registration.
Failure to renew on time subjects your nonprofit to the imposition of late fees. Several states, for example, impose a late filing fee of $25 per month. The penalties are particularly harsh in California: Failure to file a timely renewal with the California Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts can result in loss of your nonprofit’s state tax exemption and assessment of a minimum tax penalty of $800, plus interest and late fees. Moreover, such a nonfiling nonprofit’s directors, trustees, officers, and return preparers are personally liable for these fees and penalties—this means you cannot use charitable assets to pay them; they must be paid out of pocket.
So you want to make sure you renew before your initial registration expires. This date varies from state to state. Typically, expiration occurs either one year after the registration is issued, at the close of the calendar or fiscal year, or a designated number of months thereafter. As a result, if your nonprofit is registered in multiple states, you’ll have to keep track of several different deadlines.
Several states time their due dates for the renewal financial report to coincide with the deadline for filing Form 990 or 990-EZ with the IRS—4