Most nonprofits are 501(c)(3) organizations, which means they are formed for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes and are eligible for federal and state tax exemptions. To create a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, first you need to form an Alaska nonprofit corporation under Chapter 10.20 of the Alaska Nonprofit Corporation Act. Then you apply for tax-exempt status from the IRS and the State of Alaska. Here are the details.
1. Choose who will be on the founding board of directors for your nonprofit corporation.
In Alaska, your nonprofit corporation must have three or more directors, and incorporators must be 19 or older. The name and address of each member of the first board of directors must be included in the articles of incorporation. The initial board of directors remain in office until the first annual election of directors or for the period specified in the articles of incorporation. If no initial term for the directors is specified in the articles, then the term is one year.
2. Choose a name for your Alaska nonprofit corporation.
The name of your nonprofit corporation cannot be the same as the name of another nonprofit corporation on file with the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. To see if your proposed name is available, you can search Alaska’s name database through the Alaska State Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development website.
3. Prepare and file your nonprofit articles of incorporation.
You will need to create and file nonprofit articles of incorporation with the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development office. The articles of incorporation need to include basic information such as your nonprofit’s name, your nonprofit’s statement of purpose, certain provisions required for state and federal tax-exempt purposes, and the name and address of your registered agent (the person to whom legal notices should be sent).
The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development should have a nonprofit articles of incorporation form -- either a fill-in-the-blank form or a sample on which you can base your articles. To ensure that you’ll receive 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status when you apply with the IRS, you’ll need to include specific language to ensure that you'll receive tax-exempt status, such as a clause dedicating the nonprofit’s assets to another 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization should your nonprofit end. Your state form may include these provisions already but, if yours doesn’t, consult a legal self-help guide such as How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation, by Anthony Mancuso (Nolo), to make sure your articles comply with Alaska’s nonprofit laws.
4. Prepare bylaws for your Alaska nonprofit corporation.
You’ll need to prepare bylaws that comply with Alaska law and contain the rules and procedures your corporation will follow for holding meetings, electing officers and directors, and taking care of other corporate formalities required in Alaska. For more information, see Nolo’s article Nonprofit Formation Documents: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Organizational Minutes or, for help creating your bylaws, see Nolo’s book How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation, by Anthony Mancuso (Nolo). Your bylaws do not need to be filed with the Alaska Department of Commerce and Economic Development -- they are your internal operating manual.
5. Hold a meeting of your board of directors.
Your first board meeting is usually referred to as the organizational meeting of the board. The board should take such actions as:
- approving the bylaws
- appointing officers
- setting an accounting period and tax year, and
- approving initial transactions of the corporation, such as the opening of a corporate bank account.
After the meeting is completed, minutes of the meeting should be created.
6. Set up a corporate records binder.
You should set up a corporate records binder for your nonprofit to hold important document such as articles of incorporation, bylaws, and minutes of meetings. For more information, as well as minutes forms, consent forms, and other resolutions, see Nonprofit Meetings, Minutes & Records, by Anthony Mancuso (Nolo).
Now that you have created your nonprofit corporation, you can obtain your federal and Alaska state tax exemptions. Here are the three steps you must take to obtain your tax-exempt status:
1. File your Form 1023 federal tax exemption application.
To obtain federal tax-exempt status, you need to complete and file IRS Form 1023 with the IRS. This long and detailed form asks for lots of information about your organization, including its history, finances, organizational structure, governance policies, operations, activities, and more. For more information, see Nolo’s article How to Obtain 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status for Your Nonprofit or, for line-by-line instruction on how to complete the form, see How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation, by Anthony Mancuso (Nolo).
2. Obtain your Alaska state tax exemptions.
Once you have your federal tax exemption, you need to obtain your Alaska state tax exemption. This may include exemptions from income, property, sales, and other state taxes. Alaska’s tax agency will have a form you need to file to obtain your state tax exemption.
3. Other state reporting and registration requirements.
Depending on your activities and the size of your organization, you may need to register with the Alaska attorney general before doing any fundraising activities. Check with Alaska's attorney general website for additional rules or, for more information about fundraising registration requirements, see Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: The 50-State Guide, by Stephen Fishman (Nolo).
That’s it! That’s all it takes to become a Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit corporation in Alaska.
Last updated on 03/08/2011.