Harbor Compliance makes starting your nonprofit easy. Your specialist manages all of the paperwork, letting you focus on your mission. Get your 501(c)(3) approved - starting at $1,395 plus filing fees.
Welcome to our Kentucky nonprofit resource guide! This free guide will help you understand how to start your nonprofit in Kentucky and become 501(c)(3) tax exempt. You will find step-by-step instructions and get answers to common questions like "what does it cost?" and "how many board members do I need?".
If you're starting out with little or no funds, gaining professional assistance is rarely an option. In that case, you may want to commit to researching the process and filing government applications on your own. This route is not for the faint of heart but is certainly achievable if you work diligently. The following step-by-step guide should help you as you undertake this process.
As you begin, take a moment to consider if you should start a new non-profit organization. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there were over 16,000 nonprofit organizations in Kentucky in 2013. To decide if a new nonprofit is necessary...
This guide focuses on starting a nonprofit corporation, the traditional nonprofit legal structure. This legal structure has a few key benefits. First and foremost, the nonprofit corporation limits the liability of the organization's officers and directors. Second, the nonprofit corporation is familiar to donors and grant makers. Lastly, nonprofit corporations meet a wide range of IRS eligibility requirements, in particular those relating to the 501(c)(3) application.
The legal name of your nonprofit corporation may not conflict with any other registered name. Check availability of your desired name by conducting a name search.
Identify the nonprofit’s Kentucky registered agent. A registered agent is a legal appointee who is responsible for receiving legal notices for your nonprofit. Your registered agent must be physically located in Kentucky and maintain an office that is open during regular business hours.
We provide a convenient service to act as your Kentucky registered agent. As part of that service, our local office in Richmond, KY receives your legal documents and sends you notifications. You view your documents in your secure online account. Registered agent is included in our nonprofit formation service or you can sign up for this service separately.
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Below is an overview of the paperwork, cost, and time to start an Kentucky nonprofit.
File articles of incorporation to create your non-profit corporation.
Mail, in-person, or online
~3-5 business days by mail or online. While you wait if you file in-person.
The IRS requires specific language in the articles of incorporation to qualify for 501(c)(3) federal tax exemption. These provisions are not always included in state articles of incorporation templates. Refer to IRS Pub 557 for guidance and sample language.
"Each corporation shall keep correct and complete books and records of account..." (KRS §273.233.
Your filed articles of incorporation is the first document for your nonprofit corporate records. Your
corporation will generate many other official records such as bylaws, meeting minutes, and your
Office supplies intended for a nonprofit corporation will help you stay organized and save time. Optionally, get a company record book, seal, and document templates.
Draft bylaws which is the governing document for the nonprofit. The bylaws may contain any provisions for the regulation and management of the affairs of a corporation not inconsistent with law or the articles of incorporation (KRS §273.191). You will review and ratify the bylaws at your first board of directors meeting.
The Board should create and adopt a conflict of interest policy. This document is submitted to the IRS at the time they apply for 501(c)(3) tax exemption.
Hold the first meeting of the board of directors or incorporators (KRS §273.257). At this meeting, the nonprofit should approve the bylaws, elect additional directors, appoint officers, and approve initial resolutions such as opening a company bank account. Keep minutes of this meeting.
Your nonprofit must obtain an EIN regardless of whether it will hire employees.
Register with the Kentucky Department of Revenue within 30 days of incorporation for applicable tax accounts
You may also need to file other Kentucky Registration Applications.
Applying for 501(c) tax exemption is often the most complex and time-consuming steps in setting up a nonprofit. It is also one of the most important, as obtaining a tax exemption is what is enables an organization to successfully raise funds, apply for grants, be exempt from IRS income tax, and enjoy a variety of other benefits exclusively available to nonprofits.
501(c) is the chapter of the Internal Revenue Code that regulates nonprofit organizations. Most nonprofits are 501(c)(3)s, including charities and foundations. There are a few forms used to apply for federal tax exemption. 501(c)(3) nonprofits apply using Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ. Not all organizations however are eligible to file the streamlined Form 1023-EZ. Other types of nonprofits, including 501(c)(4)s and 501(c)(6)s, apply using Form 1024.
Seeking the help of a professional with this step is common. Choosing the right form to file is just one consideration. A great deal of expertise, time, and preparation goes into creating a successful application. The IRS estimates over 100 hours are spent on researching and preparing the application. If you're looking for professional assistance, check out our formation services to help you with your 501(c) application and the rest of the process. Our nonprofit specialists will help you from start to finish.
The IRS will return a Determination Letter which officially recognized your exemption.
Your nonprofit is automatically exempt from Kentucky corporate income tax when you receive IRS income tax exemption.
Your nonprofit may be able to obtain exemption from Kentucky sales and use tax. To apply:
Before soliciting any funds or hiring solicitors, you must complete your charitable organization
registration in each state where you will raise funds.
If you need to register in many states, review our guide “Charitable Solicitation Registration using the Unified Registration Statement (URS)”. 39 states accept the URS, including Kentucky.
To file only in Kentucky:
To run your business legally, you must obtain applicable licenses and permits. The easiest way to navigate the wide range of federal, state, and local requirements is to search by your business type and locality using the Small Business Administration Business License & Permit look-up tool.
Kentucky nonprofits who wish to conduct bingo, raffles, and other charitable gaming must register with the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet - Department of Charitable Gaming by filing Form CG-1: Kentucky Application for License for Charitable Organization ($25 state fee).
You must file federal and state tax returns. You must also file:
Filing fees depend on your individual situation. We do our best to calculate your filing fees upfront and collect those fees today so we can get started. Your specialist will determine your exact filing fees and invoice additional fees if required.