Nonprofit Tax &
Regulatory Compliance
Attorney in Louisville, KY

Law, labor, faith, and politics intersect in my legal practice. Though my firm, Chris Sanders Law PLLC, is located in Louisville, Kentucky, I work throughout the United States.

If you’re operating or thinking of establishing a faith-based, political, or non-profit organization, you may need help navigating the rules of the IRS. I can work with you to help overcome the hurdles between you and the tax-exempt status of your enterprise.

I'm active in the community with religious, political, and non-profit endeavors, so I'm committed to providing comprehensive legal counsel and advocacy for clients like me who care. 

Faith-Based Organizations
& Tax Status

Non-profit and other charitable groups must apply for tax-exempt status from the IRS. However, churches do not need to apply, so long as they meet the requirements for tax exemption under IRS Section 501(c)(3). (Some apply anyway, some rely upon denominations or membership-based councils to provide exemption.) The IRS uses the term “churches,” but mosques, synagogues, temples, and other assembly points for religious devotees are also included. Contributions are tax-deductible.

Religious organizations that are not churches, however, do need to apply for tax-exempt status, unless their gross receipts total less than $5,000 annually. These groups typically include nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, and other entities whose principal purpose is the study or advancement of religion.

To qualify under Section 501(c)(3), the organization must meet all of the following requirements:

  • The organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other charitable purposes
  • Net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder
  • No substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation
  • The organization may not intervene in political campaigns, and
  • The organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy

Seek Legal Guidance

Call If I Can Help You

Both churches and religious organizations, regardless of whether the entity has any employees, must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) by filing Form SS-4. Form 1023-EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code can then be used to apply for tax-exempt status.

Non-Profit Organizations & the IRS

Like churches and religious organizations, nonprofits will typically qualify for tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3). Other subsections of Section 501(c) cover labor unions, trade groups, chambers of commerce, social advocacy groups, and more. Contributions are tax-deductible.

If the non-profit is being organized as a charitable organization, certain IRS-mandated provisions in its articles of incorporation are required. The articles must assure that the organization’s assets are permanently dedicated to an exempt purpose. Even if the organization dissolves, it must still dedicate its remaining assets to an exempt purpose. Specifically, it must

  • Be organized and operated exclusively for the exempt purpose specified
  • Have a charitable purpose
  • Ensure earnings do not inure to any individual or private shareholder
  • Have no political affiliations or participation in partisan politics

Non-profits, like all other groups discussed, must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The group can then use either Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or Form 1023-EZ, the streamlined application, to apply.  

Non-profit status may automatically exempt the organization from state sales or property and income taxes without application.

Political Organizations & the IRS

Political organizations – parties, campaign committees, political action committees (PACs), fundraising groups, and the like – fall under IRS Section 527. They are generally taxable, unless they take steps to demonstrate that they are “organized and operated for the primary purpose of carrying out exempt function activities” and file a notice to that effect with the IRS. 

There are similar and related requirements for a 501(c)(4) organization, whose primary purpose is advocacy. 

Per Section 527, an exempt function is “influencing or attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any individual to any Federal, State, or local public office or office in a political organization, or the election of Presidential or Vice-Presidential electors….” The organization is tax-exempt, but contributions are not tax-deductible.

After obtaining exempt function status, the organization must also file periodic reports on expenditures and contributions, along with an annual tax return and annual information returns. Form 8871 is required for reporting on contributions and expenditures, but many organizations are exempt. Form 990 is used for annual information returns, but again, certain exemptions may apply. Check with me on all your filing requirements.

Why You Need an Attorney

The IRS places various qualifying and reporting requirements on any group hoping to receive tax-exempt status. Churches are the only group that automatically qualify. If you’re seeking to qualify as a religious, political, or nonprofit organization and obtain tax-exempt status, you can rely on my experience and resources to help you successfully complete every step of the process.

Tax & Regulatory Compliance Attorney Serving Louisville, Kentucky

If you’re already operating as a 501(c)(3) or 527 organization and are running into roadblocks and challenges from the IRS, I can also offer your sound legal advice and discuss your best options to resolving the situation. Rely on me regardless of the situation at hand. Contact me at Chris Sanders Law PLLC today to schedule a case consultation.