Federal tax law allows tax exempt status to nonprofit organizations. The status has many advantages but it is important that those setting up nonprofit organizations understand federal tax law if they are to get the most out of this status and avoid running into trouble. Getting to know the ins and outs of the law will pay off in the long run.
It is something to consider at the very outset because only certain kinds of organizations qualify for tax exempt status under the Federal Tax Law of 2005. First of all it is necessary to understand what kind of organizations can be classified as nonprofit.
Non profit organizations include a wide range of organizations such as schools, hospitals, public charities, volunteer agencies, legal aid organizations, political organizations, churches, labor unions and professional bodies, research institutions and some government bodies. Under the federal tax law of 2005 these organizations do not have to pay tax. But those who run them still need to understand how the federal tax law applies to them if they are to protect their tax exempt status.
The Federal Tax Law of 2005 defines a nonprofit organization as “group organized for purposes other than generating profit and in which no part of the organization’s income is distributed to its members,directors, or officers.” They can also be called “non stock organizations.”
A nonprofit organization must be declared a nonprofit organization when it is set up in order to qualify for tax exempt status under the Federal Tax Law of 2005. A nonprofit organization must be established for a religious, charitable, scientific, public safety, literary, or educational, purposes, to prevent cruelty to children or animals, or to develop sport, whether on a national or international level. The statutes of the organization must clearly state that it is for no other purpose than those that are allowed for tax exempt status.
Nonprofit organizations are also exempt from social security tax. For an organization that is run entirely by volunteers this may be a useful factor. Volunteers will benefit from social security contributions made through their regular employment. But organizations that employ salaried staff usually opt to pay social security taxes because their employees would be disadvantaged otherwise. About 80% of nonprofit bodies pay social security tax despite the exemption.This is something to consider when setting up a nonprofit organization.
When a nonprofit organization is set up it must apply to the IRS for 501c3 status. This is the technical term that means it has tax exempt status under the 2005 Federal Tax Law. This special tax status allows the organization to receive tax deductible donations. Donors to the organization can then deduct their donation from their own tax return. Tax exemption is therefore a major benefit for any nonprofit organization since it provides an incentive to donors and maintains the organization’s income stream.
Tax exempt status does not mean that a nonprofit organization does not have to keep financial records. Effectively, a nonprofit organization has to keep the same records as though it were going to submit a tax return. In order to maintain its 501c3 status a nonprofit organization must keep a record of all its revenue from donations, grants, sponsorships and so on. The IRS can demand that a nonprofit organization files information about its income.