Charitable Registration Online Filing Assistance FAQs
FAQ > Charitable Registration Online Filing Assistance FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions


Answers

Did your organization have a formal audit in the past year?
Respond "Yes" if there is a formal, written opinion or report prepared by an independent, certified public accountant with the objective of assessing the accuracy and reliability of the organizations financial statements.
 
Note: This can also be found on Part IV line 12a of the 2018 IRS form 990. If you file a 990-EZ, 990-PF, 1041, or the 990-N (E-postcard), your organization will still be responsible for responding to this question. If you are using a 990 from another year, please reference an equivalent line-item on the 990 in use.


Do you need information on the officers, director, trustees, and executive personnel?
Trustees, directors, and board members are terms often used interchangeably to describe those who have fiduciary duties to oversee the operations of a charitable organization. These individuals have specific legal duties in making decisions about the group’s activities.
 
Include all forms of compensation including cash, and non-cash, salary, fees, bonuses, severance payments, deferred compensation, and non-cash compensation to all officers and employees and payments made to directors and trustees. Include the total of employer’s share of deferrals and contributions the organization paid to qualified and nonqualified pension plans and the employers share of contributions to employee benefit programs (e.g., insurance, health and welfare) that are not an incidental part of a pension plan. Benefits include amount paid for death, sickness, hospitalization, or disability benefits, unemployment compensation benefits and other benefits.
 
Note: Information on officers, directors, trustees, and executive personnel as well as their compensation is also requested on the 2018 IRS forms Part VII of the 990, Part IV of the 990-EZ, or Part VIII of the 990-PF. If you file a form 1041 or the 990-N (E-postcard), your organization will still be responsible for compiling this information. If you are using a 990 from another year, please reference an equivalent line-item on the 990 in use.
 
Indicate the average number of hours each week the director commits to work on behalf of the organization. Organizations that do not track this sort of time can estimate an average number of hours board members devote per week to the organization’s work.


Does your organization do all of its own fundraising?
If your agency does ALL of its fundraising without the use of professionally-hired fundraisers (e.g., a professional solicitor), you should answer “yes.” Types of fundraising can include, but are not limited to, playing licensed charitable bingo, raffles, bake-sales, walk-a-thons, services for fees, tournaments, planned giving, etc.


How can we determine our group’s formation type?
These categories refer to the type of business entity selected by the organization when it was formed. The Ohio Secretary of State’s office provides definitions. 
 
Note: Association is the category that non-incorporated entities often select and trusts are generally associated with testamentary or inter vivos trusts. For additional help, go to www.sos.state.oh.us.


How do I determine the date a trust was funded?
Trusts may be funded in advance of or following the death of a beneficiary. Please indicate the date that funds were made available to the trust.


How do we decide what our fiscal year should be?
Organizations must define a 12-month period that will be used as the basis for reporting financial information. Groups can select a calendar year that begins January 1 and ends December 31. However, organizations may find it more convenient to select other dates that define their fiscal year. July 1 to June 30 is the second most common fiscal year period, second only to the standard calendar year. The response to this question should indicate the last month of the fiscal year. For instance, if a calendar fiscal year is used, December should be selected.


How do we determine what our agency’s date of formation should be?
Organizations may have various ways of determining their date of formation. The most common way a date can be determined is by the date of the initial board meeting, date the group was incorporated by the Secretary of State, or the date of probate.


How do we know if we qualify for an exemption from registration in Ohio?
There are a few narrowly defined types of organizations that are exempt under Ohio Revised Code. Select all that apply and upload or mail documents along with an explanation justifying your exemption request. The supporting documentation must be received within three weeks of your request. An attorney will review the documents and determine whether an exemption should be granted.
 
Note: If the purposes of the group changes, it will be important to submit another exemption request. Additionally, the General Assembly could modify the exemption list, meaning organizations may lose that status. This system keeps track of approved exemptions so that they are noted in the system.


How do we know if we should list other agency EINs?
If your organization has been recognized by the IRS as a parent organization and files a group return on behalf of Ohio chapters, branches or affiliates, list the specific chapters included in the parent filing.


How do you calculate gross revenue?
Subtract from the total sum of all gross revenue (which includes individual gifts and contributions) the total received from governmental grants and funds received from other charities.


How many board meeting were held in the last fiscal year?
Indicate how many official meetings of the board of directors and/or trustees took place during the agency’s last fiscal year.


How much did your agency generate from bingo receipts?
Provide the amount of total sales, before expenses and prizes, from conducting a traditional bingo game and/or the sale of instant bingo tickets in Ohio.


How much has your organization raised from Ohioans?
Contribution means the promise, pledge, or grant of any money, property, financial assistance, or any other thing of value in response to a solicitation received from people in Ohio. This would include funds received from bingo. Contributions do not include any bona fide fees, or any dues or assessments paid by members, provided that membership is not conferred solely as a consideration for making a contribution in response to a solicitation.


How much money from fundraising was used to aid Ohioans?
If data is not available to indicate how much was collected from Ohioans, explain how contributions are tracked and reported. Organizations can also indicate an approximation, noting that the figure is estimated. The least preferred option is to report the total collected from all states if there are not smaller reporting options that would more closely approximate Ohio gifts. In all cases, additional notes can be added to provide clarifying information or you can upload any additional documentation – just click on “upload documents” in the Related Menu on the left.
 
Indicate how much of the money collected in a specific campaign returned to Ohio in the form of program services expended or grants awarded within the state, for instance. If no awards, services, or grants were directed to Ohio from the contributions received, briefly describe how funds are allotted.


How should the value of the assets be determined?
The total should be the sum of all assets according to their fair market value.

How should we calculate our annual revenue?
The annual revenue includes the sum of all contributions, gifts, grants, and similar amounts received including: program service revenue, membership dues and assessments, investment income, gains (or losses) from sales of assets, net income (losses) from special events, activities, and fundraisers, as well as any other revenue not mentioned above. It should NOT include revenues from government fees or contracts.
 
Note: This figure must be reported to the IRS and can be found on the 2018 IRS forms at Part I line 12 of the 990, Part I line 9 of 990-EZ, Part I line 12 of 990-PF, or Part I line 9 of the 1041. If you file the 990-N (E-postcard), your organization will still be responsible for compiling this information. If you are using a 990 from another year, please reference an equivalent line-item on the 990 in use.
 
 


How will money raised in Ohio be used?
For some fundraising campaigns, contributions are sought for general support of the organization’s charitable purpose. In other campaigns, donations may be sought for specific programs or objectives such as funding a new headquarters building. Designate the purpose of the campaign(s).


If asked for a full description of assets, what type of assets should be listed?
Specifically cite the name and quantity of all assets including all interest and non-interest bearing accounts such as petty cash funds, checking accounts, saving accounts, money market funds, commercial paper, certificates of deposit, US Treasury bills, and other obligations due to your organization. Include the book value of any land or buildings owned by the organization and not held for investment. Include all accounts receivable, inventories, prepaid expenses, and any other assets.


Our agency does a lot of programs. What types of programs are asked about?
Describe the organization’s most significant activities that they will do over the next couple of years or have done already in previous years.


Our charity works out of different locations, including people’s homes. What should we list as our organization’s location?
The business location should be the physical location where services or administration might be found, not a post office box, lock box or other similar mail service address. If no such location for the organization exists, enter “Does not exist” on Address Line 1, and fill out the remaining fields with information from your mailing address.


Our group is part of a national organization, but how do I know if we need to file separately?
A parent organization is one that has been specifically recognized by the IRS and is permitted to file a group tax return on behalf of its chapters, branches and/or affiliates. If you are a chapter, branch or affiliate of a parent organization, you should have documentation from the parent organization that confirms that you are:
  1. in good standing and
  2. that your financial reports are included in the federal group return.
If you do not have the appropriate documentation or the parent organization is not properly registered with us, then your office is responsible for filing individual registration documents on behalf of its own chapter or division.


We want to operate our organization under a different name or a DBA (doing business as). Can we do that?
It is not unusual for organizations to use an alias or doing business as (DBA) designation that describes the organization or specific programs or services. In order to avoid misleading the public, those DBAs and designations must be reported in the materials filed with our office. Failure to file information about DBAs could be misleading to others and would not comply with registration requirements.
 
Note: The Ohio Secretary of State’s office also has requirements about registering as a DBA. Their requirements can be found at www.sos.state.oh.us
 
How do I determine what our organization type is?
Organization Type Explanation
501(c)3
IRS designation for Organizations operated exclusively for religious, charitable, educational, and other specified purposes.
501(c)4
IRS designation for Civic leagues, social welfare organizations, or certain local associations of employees.
501(c)5
IRS designation for Labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations.
501(c)6
IRS designation for Business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade.
501(c)7
IRS designation for Social and recreation clubs.
501(c)8
IRS designation for Fraternal beneficiary societies.
501(c)9
IRS designation for Voluntary employees' beneficiary associations (VEBAs).
501(c)10
IRS designation for Domestic fraternal societies operating under the lodge system.
501(c)13
IRS designation for Nonprofit cemetery companies and crematoria.
501(c)19
IRS designation for Veterans’ organizations.
Lead Trust
A gifting arrangement giving portions of income and assets to charity for a period of years and then giving the balance to named beneficiaries.
Remainder Trust
A gifting arrangement that allows the donor to use the income and assets for a period of years or even a lifetime. At the conclusion of that period, the remaining assets and income are paid to charitable beneficiaries according to the donor’s instructions.
For Profit
An activity is presumed for profit if it makes a profit in at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year (or at least two of the last seven years for activities that consist primarily of breeding, showing, training or racing horses).
Non-Exempt Trust Section 4947(a)(1)
Application of private foundation excise taxes to certain nonexempt trusts.
Split Interest Trust Section 4947(a)(2)
A split-interest trust can have both charitable and non-charitable beneficiaries. It cannot be exempt under IRC section 501(a), and its interests (beneficiaries) must be devoted in part (but not exclusively) to charitable purposes described in IRC section 170(c)(2)(B).


What are your agency’s total expenses?
Include all grants, benefits paid to members, salaries and other compensations (including benefits), professional fees or payments to independent contractors, rent, utilities, maintenance, printing, publications, postage, and shipping.
 
Note: This figure must be reported to the IRS and can be found on the 2018 IRS form in Part I line 18 of the 990, Part I line 17 of the 990-EZ, or Part I line 26 of the 990-PF. If you file a 1041 or the 990-N (E-postcard), your organization will still be responsible for compiling this information. If you are using a 990 from another year, please reference an equivalent line-item on the 990 in use.
 


What can be considered “other expenses”?
All other expense amounts not accounted for in the calculation of “program service expenses”.


What can be considered a “conflict of interest” policy?
A conflict of interest policy is a written policy adopted by and regularly reviewed by the board of directors. The purpose of the policy is to ensure the protection of the tax-exempt organization's interests when confronted with business dealings that might also benefit the private interest of an officer or director of the organization. This policy is intended to supplement but not replace any state and federal laws governing conflict of interest applicable to nonprofit and charitable organizations.


What can be considered as a program service expense?
A program service is any activity that fulfills an organization’s exempt purpose. The definition of a program service is determined by the organization’s mission statement. For example, a food pantry would claim the cost of food purchased to provide to its clients, while an educational institution might report the costs of textbooks, computers or teachers used to train students. Program staff expenses, a fair portion of overhead expenses, costs to secure grants, produce an item, or perform a service are also considered program services. In addition, limited lobbying expenses related to the mission of the organization and unrelated trade or business activities might be included. Program Service Expenses should be the sum of all of these activities.
 
Note: This figure must be reported to the IRS and can be found on the 2018 IRS forms in Part IX line 25B on the 990 or Part III line 32 of the 990-EZ. If you file a 990 PF, 1041 or the 990-N (E-postcard), your organization will still be responsible for compiling this information. If you are using a 990 from another year, please reference an equivalent line-item on the 990 in use.
 


What can be considered as liabilities?
Include such items as accounts payable, grants payable, mortgages, or other loans payable, and deferred revenue.
 
Note: This figure must be reported to the IRS and can be found on the 2018 IRS forms in Part I line 21 of the 990, Part II line 26 of the 990-EZ, or Part II line 23 of the 990-PF. If you file a 1041 or the 990-N (E-postcard), your organization will still be responsible for compiling this information. If you are using a 990 from another year, please reference an equivalent line-item on the 990 in use.
 


What is a “bingo license number”?
This is only necessary if your organization plays charitable bingo as a fundraising activity and has a bingo license issued by the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
 
Note: if you have additional questions refer to www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/BingoLicense


What is a parent organization EIN?
An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service and is used to identify tax accounts. Your parent organization, or national chapter of your group, needs to provide you with this number.
 
Note: If we do not have a matching EIN in our system for the parent organization, the local affiliates will be required to file individually.


What is an EIN?
EIN is an acronym for Employer Identification Number, also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number. This nine digit number is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service and is used to identify tax accounts of businesses and certain others that do not have employees.


What is an IRS classification code?
The IRS uses a specific classification system that groups charities based on their charitable purpose. Select the category that best defines the charitable activities of your group. The complete listing of IRS classification codes is available at www.irs.gov


What is revenue from individual contributions, gifts, grants and similar amounts received?
Enter the gross amounts of the contributions, gifts, grants and bequests that the organization received from individuals, trusts, corporations, estates, affiliates, foundations, public charities, and other exempt organizations, or totals raised by an outside professional solicitor. Contributions should be reported regardless of whether they are deductible for the contributor. Report the value of non-cash contributions at the time of donation.
 
Note: This figure must be reported to the IRS and can be found on the 2018 IRS forms in Part I line 8 of the 990, Part I line 1 of the 990-EZ, or Part I line 1 on 990-PF. If you file a 1041 or the 990-N (E-postcard), your organization will still be responsible for compiling this information. If you are using a 990 from another year, please reference an equivalent line-item on the 990 in use.
 


What is the “desired filing year”?
It will be the year of the month of the last fiscal period. For example, if your last fiscal year ran from July 2017 to June 2018, the desired filing year report for that period would be 2018.


What is the total of all the revenue?
The total revenue is the sum of all sources of the organization’s revenue and is the sum of individual contributions, gifts, grants, and similar amounts of revenue plus all other revenue.


What other governmental agencies have authorized your organization to solicit money?
In addition to Ohio, many other states have regulations requiring soliciting charitable organizations, professional solicitors and campaigns to register with state governmental offices. List any other states where registration or licensing of professional solicitation efforts has been completed.
 
In addition, many municipal, township and county entities in Ohio have local ordinances requiring registration. List any registrations completed in Ohio communities related to these solicitations.


What should be considered “other revenue”?
All other revenue amounts not accounted for in the calculation of “individual contributions, gifts, grants and similar amount received”.


What should be considered as assets?
Include cash, savings, pledges and grants receivable, accounts receivable, notes and loans receivable, inventories for sales or use, prepaid expenses, land, buildings, equipment, investments, and all other assets not mentioned, including intangible assets (goodwill, trademarks).

Note: This figure must be reported to the IRS and can be found on the 2018 IRS forms in Part I line 20 of the 990, Part II line 25 of the 990-EZ, or Part II line 16 of the 990-PF. If you file a 1041 or the 990-N (E-postcard), your organization will still be responsible for compiling this information. If you are using a 990 from another year, please reference an equivalent line-item on the 990 in use.
 


What should we list as our mailing address?
Many organizations choose to have correspondence sent to an address different from where program services are provided. The mailing address indicated should provide people with the best way to correspond with your organization.


What types of documents are required to register?
In order to complete registration, you must upload your organization’s creating documents and a copy of the Federal Tax Exemption Determination Letter. Below is a description of the different types of creating documents and the Federal Tax Exemption Determination Letter
 
Articles of incorporation/association: The articles of incorporation lay out the basic details of the organization’s charitable purpose and location.
 
Bylaws or regulations: An organization establishes and defines how it will conduct its business operations, board expectations, and other issues related to achieving its charitable mission by establishing written regulations or bylaws which are approved and adopted by the board. Code of regulations and bylaws are terms often used interchangeably with regulations.
 
Constitution: A document outlining how the organization will operate and be administered.
 
Current charter: A document creating an organization.
 
Federal Tax Exemption Determination Letter: The Internal Revenue Service is the only office that makes determinations of whether a group qualifies as a tax-exempt organization for federal income tax purposes. When groups apply to the IRS, they will receive a letter granting or denying the exemption.
 
Instrument of trust: An instrument of trust defines the charitable obligations and purpose of funds set aside in a will or probate document.
 
Other organization instrument: Attach any other document similar to articles, bylaws, constitution, etc.


What types of enforcement action have been taken against your agency?
Federal, state, and local officials across the country are active in regulating activities connected with charitable solicitation. Enter information about any sort of administrative or court action that has been taken related to alleged errors in reporting, registering, soliciting or any activity related to compliance with charitable solicitation.


What types of programs did your agency provide in the last year?
Explain how the organization used the revenue that was generated from fundraising efforts during the reporting period.


When will the fundraising campaigns be held in Ohio?
List start and end dates for each anticipated campaign that will be conducted during the period covered in this report. Include multiple campaigns if applicable. You do not need to list all professional solicitors involved with each campaign. Dates of the campaign can be estimated or can be considered “ongoing”.
 
Note: before professional solicitors can begin raising funds for a specific charity, the professional solicitor must also file a solicitation notice that identifies the charitable organization and the start and end date of the solicitation campaign and the corresponding written contract. 


Where can I find the IRS tax exemption date?
The IRS tax exemption date indicates when the IRS made its decision granting tax exempt status. It can be found on the determination letter announcing the decision.


Where can I find the probate number?
Your probate number is the case number issued by the county probate court in connection with probating a will.


Where do I find the secretary of state charter number?
The Ohio Secretary of State issues charter numbers during the incorporation process. If you are already incorporated and are not sure of your charter number and need more information about the incorporation process, go to www.sos.state.oh.us.


Who has access to the money raised from fundraising campaigns?
Provide the names of the individuals within the charity and/or the professional solicitors who will have access to and custody of the contributions and/or access to accounts into which contributions are deposited.


Who is the trust concerning?
For this question, indicate the name of the decedent connected with the probate case.


Who within the organization decides how funds raised will be appropriated?
Provide the names of the individuals within the charity who are decision makers about how funds will be expended and those individuals authorized to transfer funds via checks or other means on behalf of the charity.


Will any outside fundraisers be used during the course of the year?
If you hire fundraisers for anything of value for your organization, including money, volunteers, or goods, you should answer “yes” to this question. Types of fundraisers include:
 
Professional solicitor:
 
A professional solicitor is any person, group, or other entity that, for compensation, performs any service connected with the solicitation of contributions on behalf of a charitable organization.
 
Fundraising counsel:
 
A fundraising counsel is a firm or individual hired by a charity to plan, manage, advise, consult, or prepare material for the solicitation of contributions for any charitable organization. A fundraising counsel does not solicit contributions or employ, procure, or otherwise engage any compensated person to solicit contributions.
 
Commercial co-venture:

A commercial co-venture is an arrangement between a charitable or nonprofit organization and a firm otherwise engaged in business, where a product or service is promoted by the commercial business and some part of the proceeds will benefit the charitable organization.



What is your organization’s “date of probate?
The date of probate refers to the date approved by the court for the formation of a trust.