As Ohio families tackle back-to-school tasks, school-affiliated organizations should make sure their own to-do lists include ensuring they are in compliance with the state’s year-old registration requirement for such groups.
Previously exempt from charitable registration rules, booster, parent-teacher, and similar groups became responsible to register online with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in September 2012. By filing annually with the state, the groups bolster the public’s confidence that they place a high priority on good stewardship of donors’ contributions. While many school-affiliated groups used to be quite small — and have budgets to match — some now have coffers exceeding $100,000.
Charitable organizations’ filing deadlines are based on their fiscal year periods. These are the same deadlines the IRS uses for filings required of tax-exempt organizations. So, for example, if an organization’s fiscal year ends in December, the filing is due May 15 unless the group receives an extension from the IRS. The Attorney General’s Office honors all IRS extensions for registration filings. Under the new filing requirement, school-related groups must use the online charitable registration system to complete filings for all fiscal periods ending after August 2012.
The Attorney General’s Charitable Law staff has reached out to school districts throughout the state and also sent a notice of the registration requirement to all IRS-approved booster and parent groups. As of August, more than half of those organizations had completed the registration process.
At least three representatives from each organization are encouraged to have accounts in the Attorney General’s charitable registration system at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/CharitableRegistration
. Email messages are sent automatically to these individuals to remind them when filings are due, advise them of changes to the group’s data, and confirm filing activities.
“We hope that filing annual reports with our office will help leaders of these charitable organizations focus on their legal duties and take seriously their responsibility as board members to protect charitable assets,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “It is a simple process, and we encourage school officials to help inform parent leaders of the requirement to register.”
School officials can log in to the charitable registration system and connect to all organizations within their district to monitor the timing of each group’s filing and ensure that expenditure reports are in sync with expectations.
Information filed online is available to members of the public, who can review data and research which organizations are compliant with registration requirements. Individuals also can visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/Charities
to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office regarding suspicious activities involving a charitable group.
“Transparency, accountability, and integrity are important concepts that help maintain the public’s trust in the charitable sector,” DeWine said.
Compliance examiners in the Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section are available during business hours to assist with charitable registration questions. They can be reached at 800-282-0515 or CharitableRegistration@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov