The steps to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in Georgia (Part 1).
Most nonprofits are 501(c)(3) corporations, which means they are formed for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes and are eligible for federal and state tax exemptions. To create a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, you need to form a Georgia corporation, then apply for tax-exempt status from the IRS and the State of Georgia. Here are the details.
1. Choose who will be on the founding board of directors for your nonprofit corporation.
In Georgia, a nonprofit corporation must have at least one director on its board.
2. Choose a name for your Georgia nonprofit corporation.
The name of your nonprofit corporation cannot be the same as the name of another nonprofit corporation on file with the Georgia Secretary of State. To see if your proposed name is available, you can search Georgia’s name database at www.sos.state.ga.us/corporations.
In Georgia, your nonprofit corporation name must contain the word “corporation,” “company,” “incorporation,” “limited,” or an abbreviation.
3. Prepare and file your nonprofit articles of incorporation.
You will need to create and file nonprofit articles of incorporation with the Georgia Secretary of State. The articles of incorporation need to include basic information such as your nonprofit’s name, your nonprofit’s statement of purpose, certain provisions required for state and federal tax-exempt purposes, and the name and address of your registered agent (the person to whom legal notices should be sent).
4. Prepare bylaws for your Georgia nonprofit corporation.
You’ll need to prepare bylaws that comply with Georgia law and contain the rules and procedures your corporation will follow for holding meetings, electing officers and directors, and taking care of other corporate formalities required in Georgia. Your bylaws do not need to be filed with the Georgia Secretary of State — they are your internal operating manual.
5. Hold a meeting of your board of directors.
Your first board meeting is usually referred to as the organizational meeting of the board. The board should take such actions as:
- approving the bylaws
- appointing officers
- setting an accounting period and tax year, and
- approving initial transactions of the corporation, such as the opening of a corporate bank account.
- After the meeting is completed, minutes of the meeting should be created.
6. Set up a corporate records binder.
You should set up a corporate records binder for your nonprofit to hold important document such as articles of incorporation, bylaws, and minutes of meetings.
The steps to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in Georgia (Part 2).
Now that you have created your nonprofit corporation, you can obtain your federal and Georgia state tax exemptions. Here are the three steps you must take to obtain your tax-exempt status:
1. File your Form 1023 federal tax exemption application.
Smaller nonprofits may be eligible to file Form 1023-EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This online form is much simpler and shorter than the Standard Form 1023. Only smaller nonprofits–with projected annual gross receipts of less than $50,000 and total assets of less than $250,000–are eligible to use the streamlined 1023-EZ application.
See the IRS website for more information on the Form 1023 and Form 1023-EZ filing requirements.
To obtain federal tax-exempt status from the IRS, you will need to complete and file IRS Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This long and detailed form asks for lots of information about your organization, including its history, finances, organizational structure, governance policies, operations, activities, and more. For line-by-line instructions on completing Form 1023 EZ, click here.
2. Obtain your Georgia state tax exemption
Once you have your federal tax exemption, you need to obtain your Georgia state tax exemption. This may include exemptions from income, property, sales, and other state taxes. Georgia’s tax agency will have a form you need to file to obtain your state tax exemption.
3. Other state reporting and registration requirements
Depending on your activities and the size of your organization, you may need to register with the Georgia attorney general before doing any fundraising activities. Check with the Georgia attorney general’s website at http://sos.georgia.gov/securities
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