Registering a Public Charity

All public charities doing business in Massachusetts must register with the Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division of the Attorney General's Office (AGO) and file annual financial reports with the AGO. Upon registration, the AGO will assign the public charity an Attorney General Account Number (AG Number). Any charities that wish to solicit funds must also obtain a Certificate for Solicitation before engaging in fundraising activities.

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Massachusetts Entity - Registering After Initial Fiscal Year End Date

If your organization wishes to conduct business in Massachusetts and has either registered as a corporation with the Massachusetts Secretary of State or is otherwise a Massachusetts-based charitable entity, AND your first fiscal year end date is in the past you must send in the following in order to register your organization to legally conduct business:

  1. completed Registration Form and Checklist;
  2. A copy of the organization's charter, articles of organization*, agreement of association; instrument of trust, or written statement of purpose, whichever is applicable;
  3. A list of the current officers/directors and their addresses;
  4. A copy of the organization's by-laws;
  5. A copy of the IRS letter** designating the organization's 501(c)(3) status, if the organization has received one;
  6. Initial registration fee of $100, a check made payable to the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts";
  7. Form PC (Instructions): Since the initial FYE date has passed, you must report that year's financial data on a Form PC, Form 990, and, as appropriate, reviewed or audited financial statements, to account for any activity (or lack of activity) from the date of the creation of your organization; and
  8. The filing fee for the Form PC, a check made payable to the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts," based on Gross Support and Revenue (see chart below).
Gross Support and Revenue Filing Fee
Less than $100,000 $35
$100,001 to $250,000 $70
$250,001 to $500,000 $125
$500,001 to $1 million $250
$1,000,001 to $10 million $500
$10,000,001 to $100 million $1,000
$100 million + $2000

* "Articles of organization" are not the same as by-laws; the two are separate documents. A "statement of purpose" is an official document explaining in detail the organization's goals and practices.

** 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 once received. 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.

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 not-for-profit 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.

 

Massachusetts Entity - Registering Before Initial Fiscal Year End Date

If your organization wishes to conduct business in Massachusetts and has either registered as a Massachusetts corporation with the Massachusetts Secretary of State or is otherwise a Massachusetts-based charitable entity, AND your first fiscal year end date is in the future, you must send in the following in order to register your organization to legally conduct business:

  1. A completed Registration Form and Checklist;
  2. A copy of the organization's charter, articles of organization*, articles of incorporation, agreement of association, instrument of trust, or written statement of purpose, whichever is applicable;
  3. A list of the current officers/directors and their addresses;
  4. A copy of the organization's by-laws;
  5. A copy of the IRS letter** designating the organization's 501(c)(3) status, if the organization has received one;
  6. Initial registration fee of $100, a check made payable to the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts";
  7. If the organization does not intend to solicit funds, it may send the first six 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. If the organization has solicited or it intends to solicit funds, or to have funds solicited on its behalf, then the organization must include the Schedule A-2; and
  8. The Schedule A-2 filing fee of $50, a check made payable to the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts," if Schedule A-2 is part of the registration package. This is in addition to, and separate from, the $100 registration fee. Neither the $50 filing fee, nor the Schedule A-2, is required if the organization does not intend to solicit.

*"Articles of organization" are not the same as by-laws; the two are separate documents. Also note that a "statement of purpose" is an official document explaining in detail the organization's goals and practices.

**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 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.

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 not-for-profit 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.

Out-Of-State Charity - Registering After Initial Fiscal Year End Date in Massachusetts

If your organization is based in or was created in another state AND your initial fiscal year end date is in the past (even if you have been in operation for less than a full 12 months), you must send in the following to register your organization to legally conduct business in Massachusetts:

  1. completed Registration Form and Checklist;
  2. A copy of the organization's charter, articles of organization*, agreement of association, instrument of trust, or written statement of purpose, whichever is applicable;
  3. A list of the current officers/directors and their addresses;
  4. A copy of the organization's by-laws;
  5. A copy of the IRS letter** designating the organization's 501(c)(3) status, if the organization has received one;
  6. Initial registration fee of $100a check made payable to the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts";
  7. Form PC (Instructions): Since the initial FYE date has passed, you must report that year's financial data on a Form PC, Form 990, and, as appropriate, reviewed or audited financial statements, to account for any activity (or lack of activity) from the date of the creation of your organization; and
  8. The filing fee for the Form PC, a check made payable to the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts", based on Gross Support and Revenue (see chart below).
Gross Support and Revenue Filing Fee
Less than $100,000 $35
$100,001 to $250,000 $70
$250,001 to $500,000 $125
$500,001 to $1 million $250
$1,000,001 to $10 million $500
$10,000,001 to $100 million $1000
$100 million + $2000

*"Articles of organization" are not the same as by-laws; the two are separate documents. Also note that a "statement of purpose" is an official document explaining in detail the organization's goals and practices.

**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 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.

The information a charity provides to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Corporations Division (Corporations 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 not-for-profit 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.

 

Out-Of-State Charity - Registering Before Initial Fiscal Year End Date in Massachusetts

If your organization is based in or was created in another state another state and your initial FYE date is in the future, you must send in the following to register your organization to legally conduct business:

  1. A completed Registration Form and Checklist;
  2. A copy of the organization's charter, articles of organization*, agreement of association, instrument of trust, or written statement of purpose, whichever is applicable;
  3. A list of the current officers/directors and their addresses;
  4. A copy of the organization's by-laws;
  5. A copy of the IRS letter** designating the organization's 501(c)(3) status, if the organization has received one;
  6. Initial registration fee of $100a check made payable to the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts";
  7. If the organization does not intend to solicit funds, it may send the first six 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. If the organization has solicited or it intends to solicit funds, or to have funds solicited on its behalf, in Massachusetts, then the organization must include the Schedule A-2; and
  8. The Schedule A-2 filing fee of $50, a check made payable to the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" if Schedule A-2 is part of the registration package. This is in addition to, and separate from, the $100 registration fee. Neither the $50 filing fee, nor the Schedule A-2, is required if the organization does not intend to solicit.

* "Articles of organization" are not the same as by-laws; the two are separate documents. Also note that a "statement of purpose" is an official document explaining in detail the organization's goals and practices.

** 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 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.

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 not-for-profit 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.
 

The URS (Unified Registration Statement)

The URS is a reporting form designed for charities registered in numerous states. Massachusetts accepts the URS in lieu of the Schedule A-2 only (a registration form must still be completed) from organizations based in other states only for an initial registration, and only if the organization has not yet passed its initial fiscal year end date of operating in Massachusetts. The completed Registration Form and Checklist should still be submitted with the URS. It is not necessary to send a copy of the organization's most recent Form 990 or financial statement with the URS.

If the organization has passed its first fiscal year end date (even if it has been less than a full 12 months) while operating in MA, it must submit a Form PC and the URS will not be accepted. 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.

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 URS is in addition to the $100 registration fee. The $100 registration fee is required for all registrations.

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