Filing for Recognition as a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization

Each state network should consider whether it would be prudent to apply for 501(c)(3) status. Organizations with nonprofit purposes must file an application with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to be recognized and exempt from federal income taxation, therefore avoiding federal income tax liability on any excess funds remaining at the end of the year or investment income. States also have provisions for exemption from some or all state and local taxes, but they generally will grant state exemptions to entities that have already received tax-exempt status from the federal government.

Most state networks generally meet the qualifications of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which offers some advantages to both the organization and its donors (see Benefits of Being a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization​). In order to be recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, the organization must file a Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ with the IRS.


Form 1023
is the application filed with the IRS in order to request exempt status under Section 501(c)(3).

Learn more (PDF)


Form 1023-EZ
was released in July 2014 to help smaller organizations seeking exempt status.

Learn more (PDF)

State networks are also subject to annual filing requirements for federal income taxation purposes. Annual filings to the state in which the organization is domiciled and/or doing business may also be required.

Note: The IRS has very specific regulations regarding the award of scholarships by 501(c)(3) corporations. If the state network is or expects to be engaged in this activity, pay special attention to the legal requirements.

State Registration Requirement for Solicitation of Charitable Contributions

The National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) maintains a website that provides informational links to various states to determine whether organizations are required to register with one or more states to solicit contributions or to obtain exemption from state taxes. Information can also be obtained from your state’s attorney general’s office or the office of the secretary of state.

Obtaining an Employer Identification Number

An employer identification number (EIN) is required by federal law in order to conduct such routine matters as opening a bank account. This will be a unique number by which the IRS can identify your organization. To operate independent of an institution or other affiliated entities, state networks will need an EIN even if the organization has no employees. The EIN serves as a unique identifier for the state network and is used for tax filing purposes. If your state network operates as a nonprofit, including as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, this number is used for reporting and filing purposes as well.

​Note that you must complete this application in one session, as you will not be able to save and return at a later time. Your online session will expire after 15 minutes of inactivity, and you will need to start over.

Application Preview (PDF)

Once you have completed the online application and after all validations are done, you will get your EIN immediately. You can then download, save, and print your EIN confirmation notice.

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