How Do I Form a 501c3 Public Charity?

An Estate Planning FAQ with M. Thomas Langan II.

A 501(c)(3) public charity is a non-profit organization that is exempt from federal income tax. These organizations must be organized and carried out for certain exempt purposes, which include charitable, educational, religious and scientific purposes.

There are several ways to create a 501(c)(3) entity. The most common way is to first form a non-profit corporation. This is typically done by filing articles of incorporation with your state’s Secretary of State. At this point you just have a non-profit corporation. In order to be tax exempt federally, you need to take the extra step of filing for exempt status with the IRS by filing Form 1023. The application must be complete and accompanied with the appropriate user fee.

If the application is approved, you then have a 501(c)(3) public charity and are subject to annual reporting requirements.

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