When researching how to start a nonprofit in Louisiana, be aware that requirements can vary from state to state. This article provides a step-by-step guide to opening your nonprofit in Louisiana.

Starting Your Nonprofit

Begin by finding a name for your organization that clearly states what you do while complying with state requirements.

You will need to fill the following positions:

  • Incorporator(s): individual(s) who sign(s) the Articles of Incorporation.
  • Three Directors: make up the governing body and are the main stakeholders for the company.
  • Officers: President, Secretary, Treasurer.
  • Registered Agent: responsible for receiving legal notices for the organization.
    • Must be physically in the state — registered as a citizen or resident or a legally registered domestic/foreign business with a physical address and regular business hours.

Establish Initial Governing Documents And Policies

Bylaws are the governing documents and operating manuals. They are consistent with both the Articles of Incorporation and the law and include topics such as how often to conduct meetings, the election of new officers and directors plus their responsibilities, rules on voting and settling disputes, and record keeping. All changes must be reported to the IRS.

Articles Of Incorporation officially mark the creation of the nonprofit. When writing them, ensure they cover the requirements from the IRS and the state. You do not want to risk your application being returned or rejected. The state specifics can vary, but the IRS will require the inclusion of the following information:

  • Nonprofit name.
  • Statement of Purpose outlining what qualifies you for tax-exempt status.
  • Declaration that the nonprofit will not engage in prohibited activity.
  • Provision for dissolution of assets should the need arise.
  • Duration.
  • Physical address of both registered office and registered agent.
  • Name and address every incorporator and director.
  • Note whether the organization will be organized on a stock basis or not (or both).

In Louisiana, the Secretary of State's Commercial Division is responsible for nonprofits. Submit documentation to them using the 'Articles of Incorporation - Louisiana Nonprofit' forms. You can file via mail, fax, in-person, or online.

Louisiana nonprofits must file form 1023, the application for recognition of exemption with the IRS.

Once you have filed the Articles of Incorporation, the same articles must be filed with the Office for Recording Mortgages in the relevant parish.

Understanding Nonprofit Financial Requirements

Employer Identification Number (EIN) :

  • Every nonprofit, even one with no employees, must hold an EIN in order to open a bank account, apply for tax-exempt status, and submit 990 returns to the IRS.
  • Apply for free for your EIN on IRS Form SS-4 (guidance available for applying for the EIN in the IRS publication 1635: Understanding Your EIN).
  • Apply online or by phone for an immediate turnaround. It takes four days to receive the EIN by fax or 4-5 weeks if you apply in writing.
  • If applying online, ensure to print your EIN before closing down the page.

Applying For Louisiana State Tax Identification Numbers/Accounts

Louisiana offers a consolidated state tax registration. Submit forms to the Louisiana Department of Revenue using form R-16019 'Application for Louisiana Revenue Account Number.' It is free to register and must be done online or by mail.

Applying For IRS 501c3 (Tax Exemption)

The 501c3 is the chapter of the Internal Revenue Code that regulates nonprofit organizations. In addition to tax exemption, nonprofits can apply for grants and grow their fundraising. Before you apply, read the guidelines carefully. Charities and foundations apply using 1023 or 1023-EZ, other nonprofits should apply using form 1024.

Documents must be sent by mail. It can take over 100 hours to complete the paperwork. It is recommended to enlist professional assistance.

The IRS will send a letter recognizing your exemption. Once you have this, you must file (for free) to obtain exemption from state income tax by submitting your IRS Determination letter to the Louisiana Department of Revenue using form R-1048: Application for Exemption for Collection of Louisiana Sales Tax At Certain Fundraising Activities. Do note that, in general, Louisiana nonprofits are not exempt from sales and use tax. Exemption may be requested for specific events at least two weeks in advance.

Registering For Charitable Solicitation (Fundraising)

In Louisiana, only religious institutions, educational bodies, and hospital and volunteer health organizations are exempt from registering.

Obtaining Other Business Licenses and Permits

Ensure you have all your licenses and permits in place — this requires you to check with the local, state, and federal requirements. You can find out more through the Small Business Administration Business License and Permit lookup tool.

You will find that starting a nonprofit brings a great deal of paperwork and official documents. Be sure to organize well from the outset to prevent later stresses. You may benefit from purchasing a nonprofit records kit to help you keep track of all the documents.

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