New York Now Allows Electronic Registration Filing

Nonprofits that fundraise in New York State now can file annual registration and financial disclosures electronically with the state’s Charities Bureau. The New York Attorney General’s Office last month launched a new online filing portal for charities.

The streamlined application uses e-signatures and electronic payments and is designed to “eliminate applicants’ guesswork, minimize the Charities Bureau’s response times, and reduce errors and incomplete filings,” according to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office. Organizations with a Nov. 15 deadline are encouraged to use online filings to fulfill their annual filing requirement for faster and more efficient processing.

Previously, all nonprofits in New York State would have to file a paper form CHAR500, with a paper copy of their annual audit, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990 and a check for the annual registration fee.

Filing fees are determined by statute and are fixed amounts and will remain the same for both paper filers and e-filers. Fees are based on an organization’s net worth and filing category, ranging from $0 to $1,500.

There are four registration categories in New York State:

  • 7A, those organizations registered to solicit contributions in New York under Article 7-A of the Executive Law;
  • EPTL, those registered under the Estates, Powers & Trusts Law (EPTL) because they hold assets and/or conduct activities for charitable purposes in New York State;
  • Dual, filers registered under both 7A and EPTL; and,
  • Exempt, those registered with the Charities Bureau that are not required to — but may do so voluntarily — file annual financial reports under Schedule E – Registration Exemption for Charitable Organizations.

For fee purposes, net worth is calculated on Part I, Line 22 of IRS Form 990 and Part I, Line 21 for Form 990 EZ. For IRS Form 990 PF, it’s the difference between Total Assets at Fair Market Value (Part II, Line 16c) and Total Liabilities (Part II, Line 23b).

The change comes as more organizations are working remotely after COVID-19. For example, the Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF) in New York City has gone 100% remote and paperless, paying all vendors via automated clearing house (ACH). COVID restrictions during the past two years have not made it easy to secure the live signatures by two corporate officers required for the CHAR500 filings, according to Michael Niekampf, vice president, finance and administration.

Niekampf estimated that LCRF files about 25 paper returns and 25 online returns with states around the country each year. “With any luck, more states will follow this model, it’s much more efficient,” he said.

Access to the e-filing application can be found on the Charities Bureau’s website.

Before starting an application, filers should consult the interactive online checklist that includes all the requirements for a complete annual filing:

  • A New York state Charities Bureau registration number;
  • An IRS Form 990, 990-EZ, 990 PF, or 990-n;
  • An independent certified public accountant’s financial review or audit report if applicable; and,
  • Email addresses for required signatories.

Annual e-filing allows organizations to:

  • Update names and addresses;
  • Confirm statutory designations: 7-A, EPTL, Dual, or Exempt;
  • File for annual exemptions;
  • Calculate fees automatically; and,
  • Provide e-signatures and e-payments (credit card or e-check).

Filers with questions can contact the Charities Bureau’s dedicated customer service support for e-filing at Charities.AnnualFiling@ag.ny.gov