The Charities Unit has prepared the following answers to frequently asked questions to assist organizations with the registration and reporting requirements pursuant to the Charitable Solicitations Act and its regulations.
1. Who is required to register with the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General?
Charitable organizations that exist, operate or solicit contributions in New Mexico are required to register and file annual reports with the Office of the Attorney General unless otherwise exempt pursuant to the Charitable Solicitations Act.
Charitable organizations are organizations recognized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and/or groups that hold themselves out to the public as operating for a charitable purpose." "Charitable purpose" means a benevolent, social welfare, scientific, educational, environmental, philanthropic, humane, patriotic, public health, civic or other eleemosynary objective, or an activity conducted in support of or in the name of law enforcement officers, firefighters or other persons who protect public safety.
For the purposes of registration and annual reporting, only charitable organizations which are not otherwise exempt under the Act are required to register and report to the Office of the Attorney General.
Exemptions under the Act include religious organizations, educational institutions and their auxiliary groups.
The Act defines a "religious organization" as "a church, organization or group organized for the purpose of divine worship or religious teaching or other specific religious activity or any other organization that is formed in association with or to primarily encourage, support or promote the work, worship, fellowship or teaching of the church, organization or group."
The Act defines an "educational institution" as "an entity organized and operated primarily as a school, college or other instructional institution with a defined curriculum, student body and faculty, conducting classes on a regular basis." The Act further defines an "auxiliary entity" to include "parent-teacher organizations, booster and support clubs that support, encourage or promote a school, college or other instructional institution and its defined curriculum, student body, faculty, facilities or activities."
2. How does a charity register and file reports with the Attorney General’s Office?
Organizations are now required to register and file reports electronically using NM-COROS. The electronic filing system allows charities to fulfill all registration and filing requirements, including completing the electronic registration form, uploading documents, filing annual reports, and receiving immediate confirmation of receipt.
3. When must an organization register and file its annual reports?
Organizations must register with the Office of the Attorney General before soliciting funds in New Mexico. Organizations that exist and operate in New Mexico must also register within thirty days of the organization's creation even if they do not begin soliciting.
Due dates: Annual reports are due to be filed with the Office of the Attorney General Charities Unit within six months following the close of an organization's fiscal year. The due date is calculated for each charity on the registration home page.
Extension of time to file annual report Requests for extensions of time to file the annual report with the Office of the Attorney General MUST be requested through the electronic registration system and must be done before the due date. On the registration home page for each organization immediately under the due date there is a link entitled “request or view extensions,” which will navigate to the extension request function.
Filing for an extension with the Internal Revenue Service is a separate matter and does not fulfill the requirement for an organization to request an extension of the due date to file its annual reports with the Office of the Attorney General. However, an extension which has been granted by the IRS may be cited as the reason for the request on NM-COROS, and should include the specific dates of the IRS extension.
Organizations are subject to a $100 penalty for failure to register and/or failure to file annual reports on time, and/or failure to make a timely request for an extension of time to file annual reports.
4. May a charity still file its registration, report, or provide documents by mail?
Generally no, however those charities that are unable to file all or part of their registration/report electronically for reasons such as a disability or lack of electronic resources in their locality may request an exception. To request an exception, send a letter describing the basis for the request along with an affidavit affirming under oath that the charity is unable to file its registration or report electronically. Charities Unit staff will review the request and upon good cause shown, grant exception from all or part of the electronic registration/reporting functions.
Organizations without in-house electronic resources should use services and facilities in their areas including public libraries or businesses that provide copy, fax, and other services for a fee.
5. What information and documents must an organization submit to the Office of the Attorney General in order to meet the registration and reporting requirements of the Charitable Solicitations Act?
- A completed electronic registration on NM-COROS including answering all questions, entering all information, uploading all required documents and finally submitting and certifying the registration or report through formal agreement to the statement on the “Submit Registration” page of the NM-COROS system.
- A complete electronic copy of the lawfully submitted IRS Form 1023 or IRS Form 1024 Application for Exempt Status (as applicable under the Internal Revenue Code).
- An electronic copy of the organization's lawfully enacted articles of incorporation and by-laws.
- A complete and accurate electronic copy of the organization's lawfully submitted IRS Form 990 (any version including the e-postcard), Schedule A and all attachments (if applicable), or a complete and accurate electronic copy of the organization's IRS Form 990-PF and attachments (if applicable) or a complete and accurate copy of the Attorney General's electronic annual report form (it is rare that an organization will file this report in lieu of a tax form). Copies of the schedule of contributors attached to IRS Form 990 or IRS Form 990-EZ are not required to be filed.
- Organizations registering before completing their first year of operation are not required to file IRS Form 990, IRS Form 990-PF or the Attorney General's annual report form.
- Organizations that file IRS Form 990 and have more than $500,000 in "total" revenue (defined as gross revenue prior to any deductions or losses) are required to perform an independent audit and file an electronic copy with the AGO.
*NOTE* Registration with the Office of the Attorney General Charity Unit requires electronic submission of copies of the original, legally enacted (signed, certified, notarized etc.) documents. Tax forms which were e-filed with the IRS must be accompanied by a copy of the signed e-file signature page. Unsigned documents or documents signed after the fact rather than upon original enactment will be rejected.
6. What documents are required to be filed with an organization's annual report?
The annual financial report requires certified submission of financial information for the relevant tax year on the ‘annual financials’ page of the electronic registration system and upload of complete and accurate electronic copies of the organization's tax form for that year and audit if applicable.
- Organizations which have less than $50,000 in 'total revenue' are required to submit a copy of the IRS 990 electronic postcard.
- Organizations that file IRS Form 990 and have more than $500,000 in "total revenue" (defined as gross revenue prior to any reduction or offsets).
7. How does a charity receive a registration confirmation document or check the status of its registration?
In order to obtain a document showing that the registration or reports have been filed, a printout confirmation page is available by clicking on the registration number link in the registration status area of the registration home page within NM-COROS.
The status area at the bottom of the registration home page will show a complete history of due dates, extensions, delinquencies and submittals for the organization’s registration. Once an organization has submitted a registration, an entry of ‘registration submitted’ will appear next to the relevant tax year with an underlined registration number. This is the link to the organization's registration confirmation page.
Full compliance consists of the organization’s timely submittal of the registration and/or annual report and document approval. The organization may refer to the required documents page and determine the approval/rejection status of each document at any time. Additionally, an e-mail is automatically sent to the charity's agent when the Charities Unit approves or rejects any document. If the document still shows as ‘uploaded’ it has not yet been reviewed.
The Charities Unit reserves the right to reject filings when they are incomplete, falsified or not made in compliance with applicable instructions regardless of when the deficiency is discovered.
Organizations can access their electronic account to check status. Any questions not answered by a review of the electronic system may be submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. I tried to find information on a charitable organization by using the charity search but I couldn't find any information. What does this mean? What should I do next?
With New Mexico Charity Search, the Office of the Attorney General is now able to provide instant electronic viewing of registration and reporting status as well as documents which became public record upon submittal to the Charities Unit as part of an organization’s registration or annual reporting. Still unsuccessful? Here are some common reasons a search may be unsuccessful:
- The organization's legal name is different from the one used in the solicitation.
- The organization is not required to register with the Attorney General and is therefore not entered into the database.
- The database is still being adapted to reflect the new electronic registration system.
- The organization is non-compliant in their filing requirements
- The organization is a scam.
Be aware that there can be very different reasons for an unsuccessful search. If you are unsuccessful in completing your search or need assistance in interpreting the information, please send an email describing the information you are trying to find to email@example.com and let us know about your difficulties. We will do our best to help locate more information on the organization in question.
9. What qualifies a person as a professional fundraiser or professional fundraising counsel?
Professional fundraisers include any person that solicits or employs or directs other to solicit contributions from the public on behalf of a charitable organization in exchange for compensation and has custody or control of the contributions; provided that this person is not a director, officer, bona fide employee or salaried officer, volunteer, attorney, accountant or investment counselor of a charitable organization. *NOTE* The statutory definition of the term ‘contributions’ is very important in determining professional fundraiser vs. professional fundraising counsel status. Contribution does not only refer to money in this case. It means also “ the promise, grant or pledge of any money, credit or property of any kind…in response to a solicitation” So, even if someone makes a solicitation and takes a pledge, but the actual money is sent to another operation, he or she is still considered a professional fundraiser under New Mexico Statute and required to register and report as such.
The Office of the Attorney General is unable to accept electronic registration and reporting from professional fundraisers at this time. You must file via hard copy until the electronic registration system allows electronic registration and reporting.
Professional Fundraiser Registration
- State of New Mexico Professional Fundraiser Form
- A Surety Bond
- Certified Contract --Intended written contract(s) between the professional fundraiser and the charitable organization on whose behalf the professional fundraiser intends to conduct a solicitation campaign, including all copies of solicitation materials. This contract must be certified by the charity. Any additional contracts or changes in contracts must be submitted at least 15 days prior to soliciting in New Mexico.
A professional fundraiser who fails to register with the Attorney General may be assessed a late registration fee of five hundred dollars ($500.00).
Annual Reporting by Professional Fundraisers
An annual report to the Office of the Attorney General is not separately required. However, professional fundraisers are required to account in writing at least every six months to the charitable organization in accordance with NMSA 1978 § 57-22-6.4
Professional Fundraising Counsel
Professional fundraising counsel means a person who provides services or employs or directs others to provide services for compensation to a charitable organization on the solicitation of contributions; provided that person does not 1) directly solicit contributions; or 2) receive, have access to or control any contribution received in response to the solicitation provided that this person is not a director, officer, bona fide employee or salaried officer, volunteer, attorney, accountant or investment counselor of a charitable organization. *NOTE* Again, the statutory definition of the term ‘contributions’ is very important in determining professional fundraiser vs. professional fundraising counsel status. Contribution does not only refer to money in this case. It means also “ the promise, grant or pledge of any money, credit or property of any kind…in response to a solicitation.” Even if a person makes the call and takes a pledge, but the actual money is sent to another operation, he or she is still considered a professional fundraiser under New Mexico Statute and required to register and report as such.
Professional fundraising counsel do not have to register separately in New Mexico, but must be listed on the charities annual financial report.