Initial Registration with the Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division
All public charities doing business in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must file annual financial reports with the Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division (AGO). Any charities that wish to solicit funds must also obtain a "Certificate for Solicitation" before engaging in fundraising activities.
Before filing with the AGO, however, each charity must send initial registration materials so the AGO can enter the charity into our system and assign it an Attorney General's Account Number (AG number). This process begins when we make a determination that the organization is, indeed, a public charity. We require these items to make that determination:
- A copy of the organization's charter, articles of organization, agreement of association, instrument of trust, or written statement of purpose, whichever is applicable;
- A list of the current officers/directors and their addresses;
- A copy of the organization's by-laws; and
- A copy of the IRS letter designating the organization's 501(c)(3) status, if the organization has received one.
- Initial registration fee of $100, payable to the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts". This is a new requirement mandated by a change to M.G.L. Chapter 12, Section 8E, and is effective for all registrations received by the Division on 1/1/2011 or later.
About These Documents
If you are submitting the above items with a Short Form PC, URS, or Form PC, please consult the appropriate section below to determine the correct filing fee. These fees are in addition to the registration fee, and separate checks should be submitted for each fee.
"Articles of organization" are not the same as by-laws; the two are separate documents entirely. Also note that a "statement of purpose" is an official document explaining in detail the organization's goals and practices.
The information a charity provides to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Corporations Division (Corporation's Division) or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not come to the AGO; the three are completely separate agencies with separate purposes and filing requirements. Although you may be registered as a nonprofit corporation with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and file annual reports, your status as a public charity requires separate registration and filing with the AGO. Any documents submitted to the Corporations Division or the IRS, such as the Annual Report, Articles of Organization or IRS Form 990, will not reach the AGO.
If the organization has applied for 501(c)(3) status but not yet received it, it is not necessary to send a copy of the IRS Form 1023. It is best to note the application in a cover letter and submit a copy of the determination letter when it is received.
The organization is responsible for filing the Form PC to account for any activity (or lack of activity) from the date of its creation, not the date of its IRS exemption.
The IRS determination letter is not the same as the state sales tax exemption, DOR Form ST-2. We do not require a copy of the ST-2.
It is not necessary to re-submit these materials each year. Any updates or amendments should be sent to the AGO within 30 days, but otherwise are not required annually.
If the organization has not yet finished its first fiscal year, and it does not intend to solicit funds, it may send the five required items in without any additional filings. It will be assigned an AG number and will be expected to file its "Form PC " four and one-half months after its fiscal year end. (See the "Form PC " section below for additional information on "Form PC.")
Our mailing address is:
Office of the Attorney General
Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
If the organization has not yet completed its first fiscal year, and it would like to solicit funds, the required registration items may be accompanied by a Short Form PC . This form gives us an idea of the types of activities the organization will undertake to raise funds as it gets started. It covers the current fiscal year, beginning on the date the organization was created (date of incorporation) and ending on the date of the upcoming fiscal year end. If the organization has already passed its first fiscal year end, however, it should not file the Short Form PC even if it did not have any financial activity, but must file a Form PC. If you have questions about whether the organization should submit a Short Form PC or a Form PC, please call the AGO at (617) 727-2200 ext. 2101.
Public charities not based in Massachusetts that would like to start doing business here must file the Short Form PC to get started. It is not necessary to send a copy of the organization's most recent 990 or financial statement with the Short Form PC.
The Short Form should be submitted with a filing fee of $50 made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Please note that the $50 filing fee accompanying the Short Form PC is in addition to the $100 registration fee. The $100 registration fee is required for all registrations received by the Division on or after 1/1/2011.
The URS is a reporting form designed for charities registered in numerous states. Massachusetts accepts the URS from organizations based in other states for an initial registration. Organizations based in Massachusetts may not use the URS at all. Out-of-state organizations are required to submit the Form PC for all subsequent filings. It is not necessary to send a copy of the organization's most recent Form 990 or financial statement with the URS.
The URS should be submitted with a filing fee of $50 made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Please note that the $50 filing fee accompanying the Short Form PC is in addition to the $100 registration fee. The $100 registration fee is required for all registrations received by the Division on or after 1/1/2011.
If the organization's first fiscal year-end has already passed, it must report that year's financial data on a Form PC, and a Short Form PC may not be used because it is not designed to convey financial information. If the organization has been in existence for several years, back filings of up to four years are required. Please be sure to consult the Instructions for the Form PC before attempting to complete it.
The filing fee for the "Form PC" is a sliding scale based on the organization's gross support and revenue for that fiscal year. Please consult the Instructions for the Form PC for details. If you have questions about whether the organization should submit a Form PC or a Short Form PC, please call the AGO at (617) 727-2200, ext. 2101.
The AGO receives dozens of new registrations each week in addition to hundreds of Forms PC for groups already registered with the AGO. Consequently, it may take six to eight weeks to process your initial registration. Please be patient with us, as we register groups in the order we receive their paperwork.
If you have questions not answered here, or would like to check on the status of your organization, you can reach the AGO at (617) 727-2200, ext. 2101.