Did you know that there is a website that makes it very easy to confirm whether or not your church is compliant with the California Secretary of State’s reporting requirements? Here is a 5-minute tutorial on where it is and how to use it.
When your church was incorporated, it filed Articles of Incorporation with the California Secretary of State. Those Articles of Incorporation are your church’s corporate birth certificate. Any amendments to those Articles of Incorporation, such as an amendment changing your church’s name, would also be filed with the Secretary of State (SOS).
Then, every two years, your church must also file a Statement of Information with the SOS, which discloses the names and addresses of your church’s officers. It is easy to forget to file this Statement of Information, and if you do, your corporate status will be suspended.
Here is a step-by-step resource to help you know whether your Statement of Information filings are current, as well as obtain copies of all your past filings:
- Go to the California Secretary of State’s (SOS) website at https://bizfileonline.sos.ca.gov/search/business and locate the Business search page.
If the search window does not automatically appear, go to the upper left-hand side of the page and find the word “Search.” Click on that word, and a search box should appear towards the bottom of the page.
- Type the legal name of your church in the box. Make sure you have the exact legal name. When you hit the search button, the link to your church’s information should appear at the bottom of the page, and more information about your church should appear on the right-hand side of the page.
The information on the right-hand side of the page should include the following:
- Your church’s legal name and California corporation number,
- The date your church was incorporated,
- Whether your corporation is active or inactive,
- Whether your corporation is in good standing with the SOS and the Franchise Tax Board and
- Other information about your corporation, including its address and when your next Statement of Information is due.
If you want even more information, simply click on the “View History” button at the bottom of the information on the right of the page. This will take you to a detailed list of all the filings your church has made with the SOS.
The first item listed at the bottom of this page should be your original Articles of Incorporation. Then any amendments to your Articles of Incorporation should also appear in the list along with all of your Statement of Information filings.
- Just click on any of the listed documents, and a copy of the document will appear unless the document is extremely old.
On a related note, I would recommend that you or someone from your church register as a user on the SOS website, then that person can also register as the designated filing person for your church. That person will be able to file your Statements of Information online instead of printing and mailing them to the SOS.
I would encourage you to take the time to familiarize yourself with the SOS website search tool. It is a quick way for you, or another church leader, to make sure your church is SOS compliant and access copies of your church’s filings with the SOS.