File Articles of Incorporation
Iowa code section 504.202 requires you to file articles of incorporation for a nonprofit organization with the office of the secretary of state. The articles must contain all of the elements required by Iowa law. These include a corporate name that is distinguishable from all other names of Iowa corporations, the lawful purpose of your organization, a registered office and agent, the status of members in regard to their voting rights within the organization, and provisions that the IRS requires for federal tax exemption. When all of these elements are stated in the articles of incorporation, submit the articles to the secretary of state's business services office in Des Moines. You will receive a certificate of acknowledgement of your nonprofit organization in return.
Hold an Organizational Meeting
After acknowledgement from the state, hold a meeting to elect directors and officers, adopt bylaws and begin the work of your nonprofit. Although you don't have to file it with the state, Iowa law requires the initial set of bylaws to be adopted by the board of directors. Bylaws should cover the size of the board and how it is to be elected, meeting times, committees, responsibilities of the officers, the fiscal year of the nonprofit and the process of amending the bylaws.
Obtain Nonprofit IRS Status
To obtain nonprofit status, apply to the IRS by submitting IRS form 1023, which is available on the IRS website. The form requires a statement of the proposed activities of your organization and estimates for a three-year budget. After you receive recognition of your federal nonprofit status from the IRS, you are automatically exempt from Iowa corporate income taxes as well. However, your nonprofit may have to pay sales tax, depending on its activities. Consult the Iowa Department of Revenue to determine whether or not state sales taxes apply to your organization.
Comply With Reporting Requirements
Your nonprofit must file a biennial report and informational updates to the Iowa secretary of state's office. If you fail to do so, you risk the dissolution of your nonprofit. The IRS requires annual reporting in the form of file 990. If your nonprofit has collected income unrelated to the organization's approved activities, federal form 990T must be filed with the IRS and state form 1120 must be filed with the Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance.