A nonprofit corporation is an organization that benefits the public through charitable work. Forming a nonprofit corporation in Georgia involves choosing a business name, filing paperwork with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, and applying for 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service. You may use a legal online documentation service to prepare and file the appropriate paperwork with the state and federal government. Nonprofit corporations may receive tax exemptions from the federal government if they qualify as 501(c)(3) organizations, which are formed and operated exclusively for certain charitable purposes specified by federal law.
Your Business Name
Choose a name for your nonprofit. According to Georgia law, the name must include such words as "corporation," "incorporated" or "company," or their abbreviations. Your organization's name must be distinguishable from other names, so pick something distinctive. Reserve the name for your nonprofit with the Georgia Secretary of State’s online name reservation service. The official name approval from the Secretary of State’s office will have an approval number that you include when filing your articles of incorporation.
Decisions to Make
Choose a minimum of one director who must be at least 18 years old. Select a registered agent who has a Georgia street address, not a post office box or mail drop, to serve as your registered office. The registered agent accepts correspondence and legal documents on behalf of your organization. Also decide whether you want your organization to have members.
Articles of Incorporation
The Georgia Secretary of State's website provides a sample Articles of Incorporation and a list of required information. Prepare your articles according to the instructions. To qualify for 501(c)(3) status, you must state in your articles that your business is organized and operated exclusively for a business purpose that qualifies as one of the exempt purposes under the federal law. You may also state that upon dissolution of the organization, the remaining assets will be used exclusively for exempt purposes. File your articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State's office.
Notice of Intent to Incorporate
Publish a Notice of Intent to Incorporate no later than one business day after you file your articles. Contact the clerk’s office in the county of your corporation’s initial registered office to find the correct newspaper in which to publish your notice. Mail the newspaper a copy of your notice and a letter instructing them to publish your notice once a week for two consecutive weeks.
Bylaws are rules for running your organization. They set forth organizational structure, procedures for every business activity, and responsibilities and terms of service for officers and directors. Write your bylaws and keep a copy with your official documents.
Apply online for a federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS. Once you receive your EIN number, register your organization with the Georgia Department of Revenue and apply for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. You must also register with the Georgia Secretary of State if your organization will solicit or accept donations.
Apply for Tax Exemptions
Apply for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS by completing IRS Form 1023, which also contains instructions and submission information. Apply for state tax exemptions with the Georgia Department of Revenue after you receive your approval from the IRS for 501(c)(3) status; the state will ask for information regarding your federal tax exemption status.
References & Resources
- Internal Revenue Service: Publication 557 – Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization (p.23)
- Georgia Center for NonProfits: Starting a Nonprofit Organization in Georgia
- Georgia Secretary of State: Filing Procedures for Georgia Profit and Nonprofit Corporations
- Internal Revenue Service: Publication 4220 – Applying for Section 501(c)(3) Exempt Status
- Internal Revenue Service: Form 1023 Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
- Georgia Secretary of State: Name Reservations
- Georgia Secretary of State: Corporations Division
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