Tax 990

California Nonprofits
Registration, Tax Exemption, and Annual Report Filing Requirements

California Nonprofits - A Guide to Registration and Tax Compliance

To ensure the successful launch and operation of your nonprofit organization, it's imperative to grasp the guidelines and requirements established by the state agency.

Here, you can find how to start and register your nonprofit with the state of California, annual filing requirements, and more.

Requirements Registration Registration Annual Filing Annual Filing
With the State of California With the Attorney General Charity Annual Renewal Nonprofit Filing Requirements
Required Forms

Required Forms

Article of Incorporation - Articles of Incorporation of a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Form CT-1 - Initial Registration Form State Of California Office Of The Attorney General Registry Of Charitable Trusts

Form RRF-1 with IRS Form 990/990-EZ


Form CT-TR-1 Attach this form along with Form RRF-1 (if you don't File Form 990/990-EZ)

FTB 199N - Gross receipts normally $50,000 or less

Form 199 - Gross receipts of more than $50,000

Form 109 - unrelated business of $1,000 or more

Due Date

Due Date

Before establishing a
Nonprofit entity
Within 30 days of the
receipt of assets
No later than 4 months and 15 days following the end of the organization's accounting period 15th day of the 5th month after the accounting period ends
Filing Fee

Filing Fee

$30 $50 $25 - $1200 N/A

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Start a Nonprofit in California?

To start a nonprofit in the State of California, you must follow these registration procedures.

Registration with the Secretary of State:

To register your nonprofit in California, you are required to submit Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State.

Typically, this submission should include the following information:

  • Corporate name
  • Business Address
  • Service of process
  • Purpose Statement
  • Additional Statement

In addition to these details, you must pay the incorporation filing fee of $30 and a certified copy fee of $5, which is optional, and indicate your payment method in the form. For in-person submissions, you must pay a $15 handling fee.

Registration with the California Attorney General’s Office:

California law requires charitable corporations, unincorporated associations, charitable trustees, and other legal entities holding property for charitable purposes to file Form CT-1 and pay a registration fee of $50.

Note: You must file the initial registration within 30 days of first receiving charitable assets.


How do you obtain tax-exempt status from the State of California?

An organization that is exempt from federal income tax is not automatically exempt from California tax. Instead, the state requires you to submit a separate application to qualify as an exempt organization. There are two ways to obtain tax-exempt status in California:

Exemption Application - Form 3500 (If you don’t have a federal determination letter)

To obtain an exemption from Corporate Franchise or Income Tax, you can file Form 3500. When submitting this application, be sure to identify the appropriate exemption type for your organization. It's important to note that your organization will remain taxable until the exemption is granted.

Note: The State of California may require organizations to obtain a federal exemption determination letter, demonstrating their tax-exempt status, before issuing a state exemption determination letter.

Submission of Exemption Request - Form 3500A (If you have a federal determination letter)

Your organization will be considered tax-exempt from California state income tax if you submit Form FTB 3500A, Submission of Exemption Request, and a copy of its valid federal determination letter to the FTB.

California acknowledges the organizations that are federally tax-exempt under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sections 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), 501(c)(6), 501(c)(7), or 501(c)(19).

How can I get a copy of my organization's federal exemption determination letter?


What are the annual filing requirements for nonprofits in California?

Annual Renewal:

  • To fulfill your annual renewal requirement with the Attorney General's Registry of Charities and Fundraisers, submit Form RRF-1 along with the applicable renewal fee and either IRS Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF.
  • If your organization isn’t required to file Form 990/990-EZ with the IRS (since the gross receipts/assets are less), you must submit Form CT-TR-1.

Annual Filing:

In addition to the federal 990 filing, California nonprofits holding tax-exempt status must complete state-specific forms. These forms detail vital information, including expenses, disbursements, filing fees, and more.

Here are the filing requirements for California Nonprofits:

Gross Receipt Forms
Gross receipts, normally $50,000 or less* FTB 199N
Gross receipts of more than $50,000 Form 199
Private foundations (regardless of gross receipts) Form 199
Unrelated Business Income (UBI) of $1000 or more Form 109
*Organizations that are eligible to file FTB 199N may opt to file Form 199.

Form SI-100 - Statement of Information:

An organization is required to submit a Statement of Information Form SI-100 within 90 days of initial registration and then every two years thereafter, along with a filing fee of $20.


When is the deadline for Charitable Organization Annual Renewal and Filings?

Annual Renewal Deadline:

Generally, the state of California requires charitable organizations to complete their annual renewal no later than 4 months and 15 days after the end of the organization's accounting period.

Annual Filing Deadline:

Nonprofit organizations are required to file forms 199, 199N, 199, and 109 by the 15th day of the 5th month following the end of the accounting period. This means if your organization follows the calendar tax year, the annual filing deadline is May 15th.


Are there any Penalties for Non-Renewal and Filing?

Penalties for Non-Renewal:

If your organization fails to renew its registration, it will be listed as delinquent with the Attorney General's Registry of Charities and Fundraisers, resulting in the loss of its tax-exempt status with the California Franchise Tax Board.

Penalties for Late Filing:

If your organization fails to file CA Form 199 on or before the due date, it may be subjected to a penalty of $5 per month or part of the month. The penalty cannot exceed $40.


How do I file my organization’s annual renewal with the State of California?

You can use the Online Renewal System to complete your annual renewal and pay the applicable renewal fees with the State of California.

You also complete the Form RRF-1 with the appropriate federal 990 copy / FORM CT-TR-1 on paper and send it to the mailing address:

Registry of Charitable Trusts,
P.O. Box 903447,
Sacramento, CA 94203-4470.


How to file California Nonprofit Tax Returns?

Form 199N:

You can complete your Form 199N online through the California e-Postcard system offered by the California Franchise Tax Board. Please note that the Form 199N can only be filed online.

Form 199 and Form 109:

CA Forms 199 and 109 can be filed either electronically or on paper.

If you choose to file these forms on paper, you can complete the forms and mail them to the Franchise Tax Board. Here is the mailing address.

Mail Form 199, 109 with payment to:

Franchise Tax Board,
PO Box 942857,
Sacramento, CA 94257-0501

If the return is e-filed: Mail Form FTB 3586, Payment Voucher for Corporations and Exempt Organizations e-filed Returns,
with payment to:

Franchise Tax Board,
PO Box 942857,
Sacramento, CA 94257-0531.

Mail Return Without Payment or Paid Electronically or requesting refund for Form 109 to:

Franchise Tax Board,
PO Box 942857,
Sacramento, CA 94257-0500.

Article Sources:

  • Articles of Incorporation - Articles of Incorporation of a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation
  • Form 199N - 199N California e-Postcard
  • Form 199 - California Exempt Organization Annual Information Return
  • FTB Form 109 - California Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return
  • Form SI-100 - Secretary of State Statement of Information
  • Form CT-1- Initial Registration Form State of California Office of The Attorney General Registry Of Charitable Trusts
  • Form RRF-1 - Annual Registration Renewal Fee Report To Attorney General Of California
  • Form CT-TR-1 - Annual Treasurer's Report Attorney General Of California
  • Form 3500 - Exemption Application
  • Form FTB 3500A - Submission of Exemption Request

Start E-filing your CA Form 199 Online