The following guidelines provide background information on the most common types of filings and the related exemptions in Mississippi.
This state has a narrow religious exemption for groups that are exempt from filing the IRS Form 990, such as churches, as long as no part of the net income of such group inures to the direct benefit of any individual and the conduct of such group is primarily supported by government grants/contracts, funds solicited from the group’s members, congregations or previous donors and fees charged for services rendered. The exemption for IRS Form 990 non-filers is not automatic; eligible organizations must apply for it. 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.
This state has a broad registration requirement which states that registration must be completed before any solicitation takes place In-State. However, the state does have a de minimis exemption for organizations which: (1) receive or expend less than $25,000 in contributions annually, and (2) do not use a professional fundraiser. The statute does not specify whether the $25,000 maximum applies to contributions within Mississippi or total contributions.
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. Using the URS, rather than a state-specific registration form, has pros and cons. The URS typically must be submitted by mail. Mississippi has an online filing system, and using that system may be more efficient than completing the form manually and submitting it by mail. Additionally, information from the state-specific initial registration may be used to auto-populate annual reports, saving an organization time with the reporting process in the future.
Note that this jurisdiction requires organizations incorporated in other states to appoint an in-state registered agent. This can be done through a commercial service or by appointing a person or entity who is a support of your cause. Many in-state attorneys will serve as registered agent for a nominal fee.
This state requires organizations to include specific statements whenever the organization is requesting donations (also called “charitable solicitation”).
Religious organizations generally are not required to include this statement, but posting the language is often a best practice to build trust with donors and state regulators. Below is sample language to use with charitable solicitations in this state:
The official registration and financial information of *ORG* may be obtained from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office by calling 1-888-236-6167. Registration by the Secretary of State does not imply endorsement by the Secretary of State.
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. 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. The exemption is not automatic. Organizations should contact the Mississippi State Tax Commission to request the exemption. 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 Mississippi’s income tax. [Miss. Code Ann. § 27-7-29]
It is also important to consider whether applying for sales and use tax and ad valorem property tax exemptions would be appropriate for your organization. More information about these exemptions is available on the Mississippi Department of Revenue sales and use tax website and FAQ page. An accountant or attorney can provide answers to specific questions regarding your organization’s eligibility for exemption.
Foreign Business Registration (called “Application for Certificate of Authority”): https://corp.sos.ms.gov/corp/portal/c/page/login/portal.aspx
Online Charitable Solicitation Registration: https://charities.sos.ms.gov/online/portal/ch/portal.aspx
Sean Doran (Phelps Dunbar, LLP)
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