The California State Grange, as a California Mutual Benefit Corporation may be required to release certain records, as required by State and Federal Laws. Our framework for processing such requests are generally based on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). While the FOIA does not apply to non-governmental agencies, we use it as a standard and guideline in processing requests for records.
Additionally, IRS regulations require non-profits to make their Form 990 information returns and Form 1024 Application for Recognition of Tax Exemption available for public inspection and/or via mail.
Public Inspection Requirements:
Any organization that files a Form 990 (including Form 990-EZ, Form 990-PF, etc.) must make its three most recent Form 990's and its Form 1024 available for public inspection.
There are four basic elements to a record request letter:
- 1. State that the request is being made under State of California or Federal Law.
- 2. Identify the records being sought as specifically as possible.
- 3. Include the name and address of the requester. The identity of the requester must be established.
- 4. Make a firm commitment to pay any fees.
All requesters are required to pay fees to cover some or all of the costs of processing their requests. There are three types of fees that may be charged:
- 1. Fees to recover the cost of copying documents. This fee is twenty cents per page;
- 2. Fees to recover the costs of searching for documents, including the time spent looking for material responsive to a request. "Search'' is defined as a "review, manually or by automated means,'' of our "records for the purpose of locating those records which are responsive to a request.'' We will not create documents that do not exist, although we will make reasonable efforts to search for records. The fee for searching is $25.00 per hour or fraction of an hour. With respect to electronic records, this may require the application of codes or some form of programming to retrieve the information, if such efforts are required, we will provide a good faith estimate of the cost to the requester.
- 3. Review costs. Review is the process of examining documents to determine whether any portion is exempt from disclosure. Review charges only include costs incurred during the initial examination of a document. We may charge for any costs incurred in resolving issues of law or policy that may arise while processing a request.
Reasons Access May Be Denied:
Access May Be Denied if disclosure of information that would harm: the privacy of individuals, the proprietary interests of our business, communication that fall under an attorney client and work product privileges, Internal Personnel Rules and Practices, Trade Secrets and Confidential Commercial or Financial Information, Personnel, Medical, and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
"Widely Available" Exception:
The law provides that a non-profit need not provide copies of its Form 990 or 1024 if it has made those documents "widely available." Under the IRS regulations, an organization can satisfy this requirement by posting the document(s) on the Internet, either on the organization's own Web page, or as part of a database of similar documents, established and maintained by another entity.
For documents to be considered "widely available," the following requirements must be met:
- The documents must be posted in a format that allows an individual using the Internet to access, download, view and print them in a manner that exactly reproduces the image of the original document filed with the IRS (except information exempt from public disclosure requirements, such as contributor lists). Portable Document Format (.PDF) is an example of one format that would meet this requirement. Note: Certain third-party web sites, such as Guidestar, redact signatures prior to posting the form 990. Because the 990 has been modified from its original submission, this posting alone would not satisfy the "widely available" requirement.
- The Web page must clearly inform readers that the document is available and provide instructions for downloading it.
- Neither the tax-exempt organization nor the organization maintaining the Web page (if different) can charge a fee for downloading the information. Documents cannot be posted in a format that would require special computer hardware or software (other than software readily available to the public free of charge).
An organization that makes its documents available on the Web must tell anyone requesting the information where this information can be found, including the Web address, if applicable. This information must be provided immediately for in-person requests and within 7 days for mailed requests.
The information on this page is derived from IRS regulations, as it applies to Form 990 information returns and Form 1024 public inspection requirements.