Both Louisiana and federal law assume that nonprofit organizations are formed as corporations. The duties of the treasurer of a nonprofit corporation are defined by federal and state law, as well as by the bylaws of the corporation. The treasurer traditionally has ultimate responsibility for the nonprofit’s financial records and reports. Federal laws affecting the role of a treasurer deal primarily with matters of tax reporting and are enforced by the Internal Revenue Service.
Louisiana law requires that all nonprofit corporations designate a president, secretary and treasurer, although any two of these offices may be held in combination by one person. When two of these offices are combined, it is traditionally those of the secretary and treasurer, in which case the person who serves as treasurer will also have secretarial duties.
Treasurer's Duties in Bylaws
The qualifications, duties and term of the treasurer are defined by the organization's bylaws. You must therefore look to the current bylaws of your specific nonprofit organization to learn the full extent of the duties of the treasurer. Unless the bylaws say otherwise, the treasurer’s duties include overall responsibility for all financial records, reports and filings required of the nonprofit corporation.
Unless the bylaws state otherwise, the treasurer has ultimate responsibility for filings required with the IRS. Because most nonprofit organizations are formed specifically to qualify for tax-exempt status, most of the IRS filings for which the treasurer is responsible will be filings required to maintain tax-exempt status. Treasurers may have civil or criminal liability for inaccuracies in any IRS filings that carry their signatures.
Department of Revenue Filings
Louisiana law exempts nonprofit organizations from state income tax filings to the extent that they qualify for tax exemption under IRS regulations. No additional reporting or filings are required by the State of Louisiana as to income taxes. However, the Louisiana Department of Revenue requires specific filings for exemption from state sales taxes. Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, the treasurer is ultimately responsible for all filings related to state sales taxes.
Records Required by Louisiana Law
Louisiana law requires that a nonprofit corporation keep certain financial records at its registered office, including "books of assets, liabilities, receipts, disbursements, gains, losses, capital and surpluses," as well as separate records of all trust funds that it holds, all of which records must be made available for examination upon reasonable notice by any shareholder or voting member. This record-keeping role traditionally falls within the duties of the treasurer.
Responsibility to the Board of Directors
Louisiana law also provides that the treasurer shall be elected by the board of directors and that a corporation may serve in that capacity. The treasurer, as with any other officer, may be removed from office by the board at any time and without cause.
Fiduciary Duty to Nonprofit and Members
Louisiana law provides that the treasurer has a fiduciary duty to the corporation and its members, a high standard of duty that prohibits self dealing or any interests that conflict with those of the nonprofit organization or its members or shareholders.