To maintain a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in Florida you must:
1. Apply for exemption from state taxes
A. State income tax exemption
Once your nonprofit obtains its determination letter from the IRS, it will automatically be exempt from paying Florida state income taxes unless it has unrelated business income or it’s required to file 990-T or 990-C with the IRS.
B. State sales tax exemption
To apply for a sales tax exemption, fill out form DR-5, Application for Consumer’s Certificate of Exemption and send it to:
Florida Department of Revenue
PO Box 6480
Tallahassee FL 32314-6480
Phone: (800) 352-3671
Web Site: floridarevenue.com
2. Annual Federal Returns for Tax-exempt organizations
A. Annual Federal Returns
Most tax-exempt nonprofit organizations are required to file an annual return with the IRS (Check the IRS website for a list of exceptions).
The annual gross receipt amounts for an organization determine which form should be used to file the annual federal return.
‘Gross receipt’ is defined by the IRS as “the total amounts the organization received from all sources during its annual accounting period, without subtracting any costs or expenses”
For any questions, contact the IRS at
- (800) 829-3676 (Form related questions)
- (800) 829-1040 (general information)
Q: When is form 990 due?
A: Form 990 is due on the 15th day of the 5th month after the taxable year of the organization comes to an end.
E.g. If the taxable year ends on Dec 31st, form 990 is due on May 15th.
NOTE: If an organization fails to file form 990 for 3 consecutive years, it will automatically lose tax-exempt status.
B. Unrelated Business Income
If an organization has a gross income of ≥$1000 from a trade or business that is not related to the stated purpose of the organization, then it must file Form 990-T to pay tax on that income.
If your organization expects to pay $500 or more for the year in taxes on unrelated business income, your organization must pay a quarterly estimated tax on the unrelated business income using Form 990-W.
3. Maintain a Registered Agent
Any nonprofit that has incorporated must have a registered agent who has an office address in Florida. If your registered agent, or their office address, changes, you must file Form CR2E045 with the Secretary of State so that your Articles of Incorporation may be updated.
If you fail to notify the Secretary of State of this change, your corporation may be subject to termination.
4. File Periodic Reports
The State of Florida requires all nonprofits to submit an annual report each year. This report is due between January 1st and May 1st each year. You can file your annual report online through the Sunbiz.org website.
Failure to file the appropriate reports by the third Friday in September may subject your organization to termination.
5. Apply for Permits and Licenses
When you start your nonprofit in Florida, you will need to contact your local Tax Collector to determine if your nonprofit will be required to obtain a Business Tax Receipt. If a Business Tax Receipt is required, they can provide you with more details about the process and associated fees.
6. Register/Renew Charitable Registration
If your nonprofit will be operating as a charity, and will be soliciting funds from the public, you must register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. You can easily register online through their website or by submitting this form.
Small Charitable Organizations are exempt from registering online, and paying the fee, and can use this form instead.
7. Register with Florida Department of Revenue
If your nonprofit will have employees, you will need to register with the Florida Department of Revenue.
8. Comply with Public Inspection Rules
To comply with federal regulations regarding 501(c)(3) charities, you will need to release the following documents to any member of the public that requests them:
- Your organization’s annual returns for up to 3 years after the listed due date (including the following Forms: 990-PF, 990-EZ, 990-T, and 990)
- Any supporting documents and attachments for the above 990 forms. However, you only need to include the nature of the contribution and the amount contributed for Schedule B.
- Official IRS paperwork showing your organization is considered to be tax-exempt.
- Your organization’s application for exemption and all supporting documents submitted with your application (including Form 1023).
Your organization does NOT need to share the following documents and information with members of the public:
- Any portions of Form 990/990-EZ’s Schedule B that identify who contributors are.
- Anything considered to be an unfavorable ruling, which can include previous denials of tax-exempt status.
- Any additional information permitted to be withheld by the IRS, including things such as trade secrets, patents, etc.
Recommended: Inform your employees about their rights and stay compliant by posting labor law posters in your workplace.
Q: Can I charge members of the public for copies?
A: Yes, you are permitted to request a reasonable amount to procure copies of requested documents.
Q: If requested, how much time do we have to produce the documents?
A: It is ideal to produce these documents within the same working day. However, if your nonprofit has limited office hours due to the time of year, or you don’t have a physical office at all, you should produce the documents within 14 days.
Q: Do I actually need to provide physical copies of the requested documents?
A: If a member of the public asks for copies of documents, whether in writing or in person, you are required to make them available.
NOTE: We recommend that nonprofits make these documents available on their website. That way, anyone who might request copies of these documents can simply head to your website to view and/or download them. This will help your organization remain compliant and save time dealing with these requests personally.
To learn more about forming a nonprofit, check out our How to Start a Nonprofit in Florida guide.