The following guidelines provide background information on the most common types of filings and the related exemptions in Georgia.
This state has a narrow religious exemption for organizations that are exempt from filing the IRS Form 990, such as churches. For these organizations, the exemption is automatic. Depending on their activities in this state, other religious organizations, not exempt from the IRS Form 990 requirement, may need to complete a charitable registration, despite their religious identity.
Under Georgia law, a solicitation triggering the registration requirement includes any request or acceptance of something of value for a charitable purpose.
Organizations with annual revenue of less than $25,000 are exempt from registration. The statute states that the $25,000 maximum applies to total revenue, so this maximum likely applies to all contributions, regardless of source, rather than Georgia-source contributions only.
In this state, organizations that are required to register have the option of registering through the Unified Registration Statement, which is a standardized charitable registration accepted in many states. However, this state has an online filing system, so it may be more efficient to use that system, rather than complete and mail the URS manually. Additionally, Georgia requires registered charitable organizations to submit annual reports, so investing time in creating a profile for initial registration may be worthwhile, as this will streamline the process of submitting annual reports online.
Some states require organizations to appoint a “registered agent” in the state as part of the organization’s charitable registration. This state does not currently have this requirement, but the Georgia charitable organization registration form includes a consent to service of process naming the Georgia Secretary of State as the applicant’s agent for service.
This state requires organizations to include specific statements whenever the organization is requesting donations (also called “charitable solicitation”).
Organizations which fit into the narrow religious exemption are also exempt from the disclosure requirement but may wish to include the disclosure anyway as an opportunity to build trust with donors and state regulators. Below is sample language to use with charitable solicitations in this state:
This solicitation is made on behalf of *ORG*, located at *ADDRESS*. No paid solicitor is involved in this solicitation. Upon request, *ORG* can provide: (1) a full description of the charitable program for which the solicitation campaign is being carried out; and (2) a financial statement.
Depending on the type and volume of activities an organization has in this state, the organization may also need to register as an out-of-state business (sometimes called a “foreign business”) with the secretary of state or another state agency, which includes the appointment of a local registered agent. These foreign business registration requirements are separate from the charitable registration. Not every out-of-state organization needs to register. An attorney can assist the organization in determining whether its connections with this state are significant enough to trigger the foreign business registration requirement.
Examples of activities that might trigger this requirement include having employees physically located in the state, conducting programs in the state, and having an office in the state.
In this state, organizations that have received recognition of federal income tax exemption are also exempt from the state income tax. However, to receive this exemption, organizations must apply by contacting the Georgia Department of Revenue. The exemption is not automatic. Note that, although an organization may be exempt, if it has unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) that is subject to federal taxation, that UBTI will be subject to state income tax. (O.C.G.A. § 48-7-25.). Consult with an accountant or attorney to confirm.
It is also important to consider whether your organization might be eligible for additional state tax exemptions, such as sales and tax or property tax exemption. More information about sales and use tax exemptions is available at the Georgia Department of Revenue website and on local county website, such as this one for Columbia County. An attorney or accountant can answer specific questions about your organization’s eligibility for such exemptions.
Resources for Charities: https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/charities
Online Registration: https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/charities/charities_register
Georgia Charitable Entity Regulations: http://rules.sos.ga.gov/GAC/590-9
Information about Georgia Sales Tax Exemption: https://dor.georgia.gov/taxes/business-taxes/sales-use-tax/tax-exempt-nonprofit- organizations
This resource contains general educational information related to legal concepts, but this information does not constitute legal advice. Anyone seeking legal advice is strongly encouraged to consult with a licensed attorney regarding any of the matters discussed herein. Although licensed attorneys work with Napa Legal, Napa Legal is not a law firm and does not undertake legal representation on behalf of any clients. Further, no licensed attorney working with or on behalf of Napa Legal agrees to undertake legal representation on behalf of any client unless the terms of such representation are set forth in a separate, written representation agreement.