Charities & Nonprofits:
Registration & Filings

Under Texas law, most charities or non-profit organizations are not required to register with the State. Exceptions exist, however, for organizations that solicit for law enforcement, public safety or veterans causes.

Registration with the Office of the Attorney General or the Secretary of State does not imply approval or endorsement of the organization or its solicitor. Registration forms and Frequently Asked Questions are available on the Secretary of State's website.

The Texas Law Enforcement Telephone Solicitation Act (LETSA) regulates certain law enforcement related organizations that engage in telephone solicitation in the State of Texas. These organizations are required to file a registration statement with the Office of the Attorney General and pay a $50 fee. If the organization retains a commercial telephone solicitor, the solicitor must post a $50,000 surety bond with the Secretary of State.

You may search for an organization or view a list of all organizations registered under LETSA, including location, solicitor and financial information. The financial information presented in this list has been compiled from the registration statements and attachments filed by the organizations. This information has not been independently verified or audited by the Office of the Attorney General, but rather represents self-reported figures by the organization. Registration under LETSA is not nor may it be used to imply approval or endorsement by the State of Texas, the Office of the Attorney General, or any other state office or department of the State of Texas.

The Public Safety Solicitation Act requires certain public safety organizations, public safety publications and their solicitors and/or independent promoters to register, pay a fee and post a bond with the Secretary of State.

The Veterans Solicitation Act requires certain veterans organizations to file a registration statement with the Secretary of State and pay a fee. If the veterans organization uses a solicitor, the organization must post a surety bond with the Secretary of State.

Establishing a Nonprofit Organization in Texas

A nonprofit corporation is created by filing a certificate of formation with the Secretary of State in accordance with the Texas Business Organizations Code. A nonprofit corporation may be created for any lawful purpose. Not all nonprofit corporations are entitled to exemption from state or federal taxes. Forms and FAQs relating to forming a nonprofit corporation are available on the Secretary of State's Website.

Exemption from Federal Taxes

Exemption from federal taxes is determined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You should consult the IRS prior to filing articles of incorporation to determine what provisions should be included in the articles for the corporation to be exempt from federal taxes. Information on many aspects of starting and operating a tax exempt organization is available at www.irs.gov/eo. Information is also available in IRS Publication 557, "Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization." You may obtain the publication on the IRS web site at www.irs.gov/formspubs or by calling 800-829-3676. The IRS also maintains a toll free number for technical questions related to exempt organizations, 877-829-5500.

IRS Form 990-PF Filing

According to IRS instructions, the IRS Form 990-PF (Return of Private Foundation or Section 4947(a)(1) Nonexempt Charitable Trust Treated as a Private Foundation) provides that foundation managers must furnish a copy of the annual return Form 990-PF (and Form 4720, if applicable) to the attorney general of:

    1. Each state required to be listed in Part VII-A, line 8a;
    2. The state in which the foundation's principal office is located; and
    3. The state in which the foundation was incorporated or created.

A copy of the annual return must be sent to the attorney general at the same time the annual return is filed with the IRS. In Texas, copies of the 990-PF may be sent to the address below. Please note that the IRS rule applies to private foundation returns only. A public charity filing a 990 is not required to send a copy of its return to the Attorney General's Office.

    Office of the Attorney General
    Charitable Trusts Section
    Financial and Tax Litigation Division
    P.O. Box 12548
    Austin, TX 78711-2548

Federal Tax Return Requirement

Small tax-exempt organizations whose gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less are not required to file Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, or Form 990-EZ. However, these organizations are now required to file the electronic Form 990-N. This annual reporting requirement was created by The Pension Protection Act of 2006.

This filing requirement does not apply to churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches. Other exempted types of organizations are listed on the IRS internet site.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 provides that organizations which fail to file this required statement for 3 consecutive years will automatically lose their tax-exempt status.

Chapter 123 Proceedings

The Texas Property Code, Chapter 123, provides the Attorney General with standing to intervene in any proceeding involving a charitable trust on behalf of the general interest of the public of this state. This chapter also requires notice to the Attorney General by any party initiating such a proceeding.

This is accomplished by sending to the Attorney General, by registered or certified mail, a true copy of the petition or other instrument initiating the proceeding involving a charitable trust within 30 days of the filing of such petition or other instrument, but no less than 25 days prior to a hearing in such a proceeding. Notice is not required if the proceeding is initiated by an uncontested application that exclusively seeks the admission of a will to probate.

Direct your correspondence to the following address:

Office of the Attorney General
Charitable Trusts Section
Financial and Tax Litigation Division
P.O. Box 12548
Austin, TX 78711-2548

Expediting Chapter 123 Proceedings

Once notice to the Attorney General is provided, it is often necessary to obtain additional information to aid in our determination as to whether intervention is warranted. A significant amount of time is expended by our office in obtaining this information. The following is a list of helpful information which, if provided upon submission, may expedite review of your proceeding.

1. Include a cover letter accurately summarizing the relief requested. Tell us why the proceeding has been filed. Include any helpful background information which explains the basis for the requested relief and whether it significantly impacts the interest(s) of charity(ies). Explain why the proceeding may or may not warrant the intervention of the Attorney General.

2. Include all attachments to the pleading which initiates the action.

3. Include any documents which may not be attached to your pleading, but which may help in our review. Examples (not intended to be exhaustive) include:

    (i) the articles of incorporation for non-profit corporate entities;
    (ii) the will (or wills) and any codicils, if the matter involves a charitable bequest or testamentary trust;
    (iii) trust documents, including all amendments;
    (iv) documents relating to the nature and charitable mission of the charitable entities involved, if trust funds are sought to be transferred from one charitable entity to another;
    (v) copies of notice to all specific charitable entities interested in the proceeding;
    (vi) copies of any pleadings filed by charitable entities, including waivers of participation or other evidence of agreement to the relief sought; and
    (vii) copies of all other pleadings pertinent to our review.

4. Include information regarding the value of the estate or trust assets.

5. If the proceeding is a trust reformation, specifically state in your petition for reformation how your request to reform meets the standard contained in Texas Property Code 112.054 authorizing the court to reform, namely:

    (1) the purposes of the trust have been fulfilled or have become illegal or impossible to fulfill; or
    (2) because of circumstances not known to or anticipated by the settlor, compliance with the terms of the trust would defeat or substantially impair the accomplishment of the purposes of the trust.
Revised: January 24 2012