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Taxes and non-profits: What you should know

Nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, are public or private charities and can file as tax-exempt entities. That ensures that they are relieved of most taxes because their goal does not include monetary profit.

With over 1.6 million nonprofits in the US, these charities are required to be devoted to their mission and any excess revenue is not recognized as profit to be distributed to investors. There are many types of nonprofit organizations created for various sectors in the economy of the US, but the most common is 501(c)(3). You may wonder how can someone like Joseph Lizyness from Giraffeup manage all his complex investments? Or people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet? Well: non-profits have a special role once you understand it better.

What are the criteria requirements for nonprofits to be tax-exempt?

  • The IRS stipulates that a 501(c)(3) must exist to fill charitable, educational, literacy, religious, scientific, public safety testing, prevention of cruelty to animals and children, and for fostering amateur sports competitions nationally and internationally.
  • All income after expenses must go to the lawfully recognized individuals or organizations.
  • Donors to nonprofits can also lower their tax liability when making donations to them.
  • Small or temporary charitable organizations may opt to be unincorporated nonprofit organizations. These are usually faith-based and do not have to file annual tax returns.
  • At least one-third of the income of the nonprofit must come from public sources. According to the IRS these sources can also include governmental units.
  • Any nonprofit organization that participates in a political campaign on behalf of a candidate or generates any expenses for political purposes can lose its tax-exempt status.
  • A charter must be drawn up that states that it prohibits the distribution of assets or income to any individual. The only time any individual can receive income is if they are compensated for their services.
  • The founders, employees, supporters, relatives, and associates of nonprofits are not allowed to have any personal gain from it.
  • If a nonprofit ceases to exist, after paying off its debts all the remaining assets are to be given to another nonprofit.

What taxes are nonprofits exempt from?

  1. IRS subsection 501(c) stipulates that nonprofits are exempt from federal income taxes.
  2. They are also exempt from paying sales tax.
  3. Nonprofits do not pay any property tax.
  4. In some states, proof of 501(c) (3) automatically exempts nonprofits from state taxes, but not all states have the same laws. In some states they are exempt from some state taxes but not all.

What taxes are non-profits not exempt from?

Like any other company, nonprofit organizations must pay employee taxes (Social Security and Medicare).

Also, if a nonprofit generates money from other activities, except for donations, to supplement its income, then that activity is taxed. This is known as an unrelated business income tax because the business activity is not related to the core mission or purpose of the nonprofit.

Do some nonprofits make voluntary contributions?

Even though many nonprofits don't pay local taxes for their properties, many large nonprofits that have lots of properties, e.g. colleges and hospitals do make voluntary annual payments. These are called in lieu of taxes and are a form of contributing toward the municipality these properties are in for municipal services. Like Michael Stemley, the author of "Wealth, Power, Respect" said: "My celebrity clients understand very well that when we do their accounting, choosing the best structures means half the game is won. That is why I love TRUiC, because it speeds up the process for us as accountants too".

TRUiC makes the process of applying for a nonprofit seamless

The US tax code for nonprofits is not simple and the process can be quite lengthy and tricky. If you are considering starting one you will need to understand all the issues related to forming the organization. Nagabhushanam "Bobby" Peddi, TRUiC CEO himself is a serial entrepreneur who is one of the biggest supporters of philanthropy. He says: "Without good nonprofit structures, giving back would have been more complex - so this structure has a special place in the portfolio of most big names in business".

If you are planning to start a nonprofit, TRUiC has a comprehensive guide. All you have to do is select your state so that you can know exactly which steps are relevant for your nonprofit and the obligatory paperwork.

The TRUiC guide takes you through the 8 steps required, ensuring that you get every detail correct, including naming your nonprofit, filing the articles of incorporation, getting an EIN (Employment Identification Number), and applying to the IRS for tax-exempt status. All the relevant application forms and templates for corporate minutes are available online and can be sent directly to the state or federal organizations.

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