Ever forget an anniversary or miss a family birthday? It happens, even though they come around every year right on schedule. So it’s understandable that nonprofits sometimes struggle to stay on top of annual report deadlines, which follow a schedule that seems designed to trip up unwitting administrators. Staying on top of the deadlines is particularly tough for nonprofits operating in more than a handful of states. Yet missing an annual report deadline jeopardizes your good standing, so it’s important to set up a system to stay on top of the requirements.
Annual and periodic reports
So what are annual reports, anyway? Filed with the secretary of state in each state where you’re registered to conduct operations, these periodic reports ensure that state authorities have current information about organizations operating within their borders. While they’re generally referred to as annual reports, they aren’t necessarily due annually. In fact, the deadlines break down as follows:
- 5 states have no requirement
- 6 states collect reports biennially
- 2 states collect them every 5 years
- 5 states collect reports on the anniversary of your nonprofit’s formation or registration with the secretary of state
- 13 collect reports on a fixed calendar date for all nonprofits
- 11 collect reports annually based on your anniversary month or quarter
- 5 states base the deadline on the close of your fiscal year
In the remainder of states, reports are due only if requested or if information changes.
To illustrate the complexity of the issue, New Hampshire is one of the states that collects reports every five years, with the next one coming due for all nonprofits operating in the state on December 31, 2020. In Ohio, the other state with a five-year cycle, the deadline follows the nonprofit’s anniversary date. Sometimes, just getting to the actual due date takes some figuring: in Kansas, for example, the deadline falls on the 15th day of the 6th month after close of your fiscal year.
To cut this task down to size, you can find a complete breakdown of state deadlines, along with filing instructions and links to state agencies, in Annual Reports: The Ultimate Guide. You can also find a table of annual report deadlines on our website.
In some states, organizations must also file an initial report when registering or forming. These are generally due within 90 days of formation or registration. Because they are only required in ten states (Alaska, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington), initial reports are easily overlooked.
Annual reports and good standing
In addition to providing important information, annual reports are a core component of your nonprofit’s good standing. Other important elements of good standing include maintaining a registered agent and completing tax registrations and exemptions where required. Most states publish databases of entity statuses, making it easy for the public to see when an organization loses good standing. Filing timely annual reports where required is key to safeguarding your good reputation and maintaining your authority to operate within a state.
Calendars and spreadsheets aren’t up to the task
Trying to track all of these variables in a calendar or spreadsheet is a headache at best and a hazard to your nonprofit at worst. Fortunately, there is an easier way. Our compliance software makes managing annual reports, charitable solicitation registration, and other requirements a snap. The software is interfaced with secretary of state databases to provide a clear window into your nonprofit’s compliance at all times. From a single interface, you can monitor your entity’s status in every state where you’re registered, track upcoming due dates, and receive automatic reminders whenever action is due.
So if you’d rather save up your brain power for remembering those really important dates (like your anniversary), get in touch. We can check your status in any state, provide a demo of our state-of-the-art software, and provide a road map for compliance for your nonprofit.
And if you really want to free yourself from the work and worry of regulatory compliance, we can take the entire work of tracking and maintaining annual reports and other state filings off your plate. Simply contact us or give us a call, 1-888-995-5895. We’re happy to help.
Disclaimer: Harbor Compliance is not an accounting or law firm and does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice.
Brock Klinger leads Harbor Compliance’s fundraising compliance sales team. He handles charitable solicitation, professional fundraising, commercial co-venture, and charitable gift annuity client relationships across all jurisdictions and industries. Brock’s work also includes nonprofit formation services, industry-specific and occupational licensing, and corporate lifecycle services. Brock previously worked as an executive search professional focused on legal, compliance and regulatory assignments for an international retained search firm. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in finance.