Legal - Required Records for the Organization

Organizational Structure

Keeping records for the organization

  The Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002, commonly known as Sarbanes-Oxley (in reference to its Congressional sponsors) or SOX, has two key provisions that apply directly to nonprofit organizations. One of these provisions regulates the retention, storage and destruction of documents. Specific retention schedules are specified for different types of documents. [See the Records Retention Requirements article in the Finance and Accounting module with the attached schedule of time requirements by record type.]


Records for state compliance with nonprofit status


The requirements will vary from state to state, but most will require that the following documents are on file at the place of business for public inspection:

Articles of Incorporation or Charter Amendments to the Article of Incorporation Current bylaws and versions from past three years Current board of directors: names and addresses Past boards of directors: names and last know addresses Present officers of the organization: names and addresses All past officers of the organization: names and last know addresses Minutes from Board of Directors meetings for past three years Records of any actions taken by the Board of Directors without a meeting during the past three years Financial and tax records for the past three years: federal, state and local All reports, statements of information or other documents filed with the state for the past three years

Records for retention of federal tax-exempt status

After qualifying for exemption from federal taxes, the nonprofit organization must maintain comprehensive fiscal records to demonstrate that it continues to meet the requirements. If the organization normally receives more than $25,000 in donations or other income, it must file an informational return using IRS Form 990, Return of Organizations Exempt from Income Tax.1  A sample of this form can be retrieved to identify the required information, and therefore records that must be kept routinely. See


Records for compliance with federal employment laws


In addition to the records kept for nonprofit compliance, the organization will be required to keep records to show compliance with employment law. The U.S. Department of Labor enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act, which defines the minimum wage, overtime compensation, exemptions for contractors and volunteers, and child labor laws.


The anti-discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor include the following:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older; Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments; Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government; and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which, among other things, provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination.

 Compliance with these laws is embedded in the recruitment, application, hiring and retention policies and procedures of the company. Specific compliance reporting is required for some of the laws.

Records for compliance with OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is a law requiring businesses to track workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. It is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some organizations are exempt from the OSHA tracking requirement, depending on the industry and the number of employees. It is best to determine whether this applies to the AT organization. For information about the required records, see One of the more common OSHA requirements is the availability of Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each chemical in use in the workplace. These documents specify the correct use of the chemical and must be available to workers and available for the fire department. OSHA also recommends the protective gear essential for working in certain hazardous circumstances.

User information consistent with privacy laws Even if the organization is not legally bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, it is probably advisable to use it as a standard for the information kept about users (clients.) In general terms, this law specifies that information related to an individual's health should be available only to persons with a need to know, and that all other disclosures require the client/patient's consent. See separate document, HIPAA Basics, under User Services module. _______________________

1 “EO Reporting Requirements – Overview,” Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved May 19, 2008, from,,id=139222,00.html



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This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.


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Other Information

Title: Legal - Required Records for the Organization
Module: Organization
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Administrator
Sub Title:
Organization Source: Pass It on Center
Last Reviewed: 01-23-2009 8:10 AM