How to Start a Non-Profit Organization in Florida

by Beth Sorensen, studioD

In order to qualify for tax-exempt status, nonprofit organizations must meet educational, scientific, religious and charitable needs in their communities. Florida nonprofits should follow IRS guidelines as well as regulations set by the Florida Department of State. A 501(c)(3) organization qualifies for federal income tax exemption and may apply for exemption from sales and state income taxes. Nonprofit organizations may also receive tax-deductible donations from individuals and businesses. Any income earned by the nonprofit should be used for the benefit for the nonprofit itself and not any one individual.

Select the name of your nonprofit organization. Write a mission statement summarizing the purpose of your organization.

Establish a board of directors. Florida state law states that nonprofit organizations should have at least three or more board members.

Draft articles of incorporation and designate a Registered Agent. Submit articles of incorporation to the Florida Department of State -- Division of Corporations. Complete articles online or by mail and include the filing fee of $70.

Write bylaws stating the purpose of your nonprofit and including information regarding the establishment of board of directors.

Download and complete form SS-4 requesting an Employer Identification number. Submit completed form to the IRS via phone, mail, web or fax.

Apply for tax-exempt status by completing form 1023 -- Application for Recognition of Exemption under the 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code. Mail completed application with attached articles of incorporation and bylaws to the IRS.

Obtain exemption for Florida income and sales tax by completing form DR-5, Application for Consumer’s Certificate of Exemption. Submit form with IRS determination letter to the Florida Department of Revenue.

Register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to solicit funds in Florida. Complete form DACS-10100 along with applicable fee based on contributions raised.

Items you will need

  • IRS Form SS-4
  • IRS Form 1023
  • Florida Form DR-5
  • Florida Form DACS-10100

About the Author

A reference librarian since 2004, Beth Sorensen has been writing since 1996. She specializes in grant writing and research for nonprofit organizations and fund-raising events. Sorensen holds a Masters of Library Science and Information Management from Emporia State University.

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