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501(c)(3) Filing

Apply for Tax Exempt Status

After you have finished setting up your business as a non-profit corporation, you need the approval from the IRS in order to accept tax deductible charitable contributions and also be exempt from federal income taxes. A 501(c)(3) application allows you to submit your business under this special status.

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Frequently asked questions

A 501(c) organization is one of 29 different kinds of nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt. Under the law, these organizations are organized for the exclusive purpose of holding title to property, collecting income therefrom, and turning over the entire amount thereof, less expenses, to an organization which itself is exempt.

Organizations that may be classified as a 501(c) designation include any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes.

A 501(c) is any organization that falls within one of the 29 kinds of nonprofit organizations that have been exempted from federal income tax. Each kind of 501(c) nonprofit addresses a different need or use. Only two may solicit tax-free donations.

A 501(c)(3) is considered the most common type of 501(c) nonprofit organization. According to the IRS, 501(c)(3) entities typically have charitable, educational, or religious missions. These entities do not turn a profit. Instead, they create a nonpolitical public good which allows any donations made to be tax deductible.

Starting a 501(c)(3) differs a bit from filing to form an LLC. A 501(c)(3) requires following specific steps to seek designation.

Prior to filing, you need to understand what kind of activity will be conducted by your nonprofit. This activity may be categorized into one of the following categories:

  • Religious needs
  • Scientific study
  • Educational services
  • Public safety testing
  • Charitable contributions
  • Calling for the end of child or animal abuse
  • Creation and support of a national or international amateur sports competition

After you understand what it is your organization will do, you must formally create and incorporate as a corporation at the state level. Filing at the state level allows you to begin the filing process to obtain an employer identification number (EIN) and to be a 501(c)(3) organization.

Remember that your nonprofit organization must follow federal and state guidelines to retain its 501(c)(3) designation status. In the event your organization is unable to follow these guidelines, the tax-exempt status may be revoked from the organization.

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