Are you a business executive working with a non-profit organization in New York and are looking to apply for 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status? If so, you’ve come to the right place! UpCounsel’s network of experienced business lawyers are ready to help you and your non-profit organization navigate the complex regulations surrounding 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

Obtaining 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status is a complicated endeavor, but not an impossible one. The most important step is understanding the many regulations and requirements imposed by both the State of New York and the federal government. As a business executive, a firm grasp of these regulations and requirements will be essential in helping you and your non-profit organization achieve 501(c)(3) status.

Before we dive into the details, let’s start with the basics of 501(c)(3) status. As defined by the IRS, 501(c)(3) organizations are defined as “corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (as long as no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.”

Essentially, organizations that qualify for 501(c)(3) status are those with exclusively charitable intent. Executive teams seeking 501(c)(3) status must be able to prove to the IRS not only that their organizations have charitable intent, but also that their operations are consistent with that intent. Achieving this status requires a great deal of documentation and understanding of the laws and regulations surrounding these organizations.

So, now that you understand the basic requirements of 501(c)(3) status, let’s dive into the specifics of what is needed to obtain this tax-exempt status.

Forms Required For 501(c)(3) Application

The first, and most essential, step in applying for 501(c)(3) status is filing the proper paperwork. Typically, this includes filing Form 1023 for 501(c)(3) organizations, as well as Form 1024 for public charities. These forms are required for every 501(c)(3) application and must be completed and submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to receive tax-exempt status.

In addition to these two forms, executive teams may also need to file an application for Employer Identification Number (EIN) in order to open a bank account. The EIN will also be needed to apply for licenses, register the non-profit with the state, and apply for grants and other sources of funding.

State Requirements

In addition to filing the necessary paperwork with the federal government, executive teams must also be sure to register with the state. The State of New York requires 501(c)(3) organizations to be registered with the Charities Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s office. Once registered, organizations must adhere to the state’s unique requirements, such as filing annual financial reports with the Charities Bureau and meeting asset threshold requirements.

The rules and regulations governing 501(c)(3) organizations vary from state to state. It is important for executive teams to understand the specifics of the state they are located in and the laws that govern the activities of their non-profit organizations.

Bylaws For 501(c)(3) Organizations

Once executive teams have filed the necessary paperwork and registered their non-profits with the state, it is time to develop a set of bylaws.

These bylaws should be written to clearly define the structure and goals of the organization. They should include things such as the name and location of the business, the number of directors that serve on the board, a description of the organization’s purpose, and the rules for managing the business’s finances. Additionally, it is important to include in the bylaws how the organization will handle the dissolution of the non-profit organization, if necessary.

Once completed, the executive team should file a copy of the bylaws with the state’s office.

Additional Requirements For 501(c)(3) Approval

In addition to the paperwork, registration, and bylaws, the executive team must also provide evidence of the organization’s charitable intent and activities.

The IRS requires 501(c)(3) organizations to have an active charitable purpose and to provide evidence of their activities to prove this intent.

This can include things such as fundraising activities, activities that address the needs of the community, newsletters or reports that are publicly distributed, and any other activities that show the organization’s charitable intent.


While the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status can be quite complex, with the right guidance and support, executive teams can successfully complete the process. With the help of experienced business lawyers, executive teams can confidently navigate the many regulations and requirements necessary to obtain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.


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