By Linda Curro
Effective Jan. 1, 2017, New Jersey will require that all charity registrations and annual renewals be submitted digitally, using a new online filing system. In many ways, this is good news: A process that once required up to 75 pages of documents to be sent via snail mail will now go paperless, saving tons of waste. The new system also promises to streamline renewal reviews, enabling the state to more efficiently verify that the forms are completed and accurate. And in switching to online filing, New Jersey will join a growing number of states moving away from the old paper-pushing system, a change that’s all but inevitable in the digital age.
But the shift likely won’t happen without some growing pains as charities adjust to the new online system and as the state works to perfect it. Although the changes may seem daunting, nonprofit leaders need not be overwhelmed by them. With some basic knowledge and preparation for the coming changes, organizations will be ready to welcome the new renewal process with confidence.
- Understand the changes. For existing charities familiar with the old system, it’s important to note that the information required for annual renewal isn’t changing — merely the format in which it is submitted. Renewal registrations will still require IRS Form 990 and audited financial statements; new nonprofits will still need both of these, as well as organizing documents such as the charity’s articles of incorporation and bylaws. However, in both cases, under the new filing system, the registration fee must be paid by credit card.
- Be prepared. The first step in online filing is to sign in and register via the DCA portal, which requires a myNewJersey account. Through the portal, users can update names and contact information, add multiple charities and complete renewal registrations. The necessary registration documents must be uploaded to the website; which documents are required depends on the size of the nonprofit. Organizations raising $25,000 or less may complete a CRI-200 (Short Form Renewal Registration); those raising greater than $25,000 or holding contracts with professional fundraisers must file the longer CRI-300R. Organizations with total gross revenue of more than $500,000 must complete a certified audit.
- Get help. Your accounting firm can help ease the transition to the new online system. Contact a knowledgeable professional to help guide you through the process, giving you more time to focus on what’s really important — the business of doing good.
By preparing now for the change, you can alleviate the anxiety and go into the new process with confidence.
Linda Curro is a Tax Supervisor with over 17 years of public accounting experience. Linda specializes in the non-profit sector and works with many non-profit organizations to obtain their tax-exempt status, as well as filing Federal 990 returns and multiple state registrations with an emphasis in the tri-state area.