If you’re thinking about forming an Indiana nonprofit corporation but aren’t sure where to start, ZenBusiness can help. In this guide, we’ll explain how to create your nonprofit corporation and show you how to apply for tax-exempt status one step at a time.
Steps to Form a Nonprofit Corporation in Indiana
- Select initial directors
- Choose a name
- Choose an Indiana registered agent
- File Articles of Incorporation with Indiana
- Create corporate bylaws
- Hold an organizational meeting for the board of directors
- Set up a corporate records binder
- Get federal and state tax ID numbers
- Apply for all licenses and permits
- Apply for tax-exempt status
- Registering as a charity with the state
- Acquire insurance for your nonprofit
- Open a bank account
Step 1: Select initial directors
Your Indiana nonprofit corporation must elect a board of directors who oversee the organization. The IRS doesn’t require it, but it’s strongly suggested that you have at least three directors. These should be individuals who provide a broad range of expertise and community representation, and they should not be related to each other.
Step 2: Choose a name
Every nonprofit entity in Indiana must have a distinct name. Your name must include the word “company,” “incorporated,” “corporation,” or “limited.” It’s okay to use abbreviations instead, such as “Corp.,” “Inc.,” “Co.,” or “Ltd.”
Use Indiana’s online business lookup tool to check the availability of your preferred name. This is also a good time to see which names are available for your nonprofit’s website. Find your ideal domain name now. ZenBusiness makes it simple.
If you’ve settled on a name but aren’t ready to file the paperwork just yet, you have the option to reserve the name with the state for 120 days for a fee of $20. Let ZenBusiness take care of it for you, so you can focus on getting your nonprofit up and running.
Step 3: Choose an Indiana registered agent
The next step is choosing a registered agent. Your agent is the entity responsible for receiving legal notices (such as subpoenas) and official communications from the Indiana Secretary of State.
By state law, an Indiana registered agent must have a street address in Indiana. They must also be available in person during normal business hours in case of a delivery.
If you’re a resident of Indiana, you can be your nonprofit’s registered agent. To do this, you must list your Indiana home or office address on your nonprofit corporation’s forms, which means your address would be available to the public. You would also need to always be available at that address during all regular business hours. To ensure you never miss delivery of legal notices, consider hiring a commercial registered agent instead. Learn more about ZenBusiness’s registered agent service.
Step 4: File Articles of Incorporation with Indiana
Articles of Incorporation are the documents you’ll file to create your nonprofit corporation as a legal entity. To create and operate a nonprofit in Indiana, begin by filing Form 4162, titled “Articles of Incorporation for a Nonprofit Corporation.” On this form, provide basic information about your nonprofit, including its:
- Registered agent
- Corporation type
Note that the IRS requires specific language under the “purpose” section for your nonprofit to qualify for tax-exempt status. For more information on suggested language, visit the IRS’s website.
If your nonprofit was created in another state but will operate in Indiana, you’ll need to file Form 56369 instead. This form is a Foreign Registration Statement.
Next, submit your Articles of Incorporation to the Indiana Secretary of State’s Business Services Division. You can do this online or by mail. The fee is $30.
Step 5: Create corporate bylaws
Prepare a document that contains all your corporation’s rules, known as bylaws. These guide how your nonprofit is governed. They detail its structure, organization, goals, conflict of interest policy, and process for voting, among other aspects. You can make amendments to your bylaws later, if necessary.
Step 6: Hold an organizational meeting for the board of directors
All the directors listed on your Articles of Incorporation should be present at the first meeting. Set aside enough time to accomplish several important tasks. These include:
- Appointing at least three directors
- Appointing officers including a secretary, treasurer, and president
- Approving the organization’s bylaws
Record all meeting activity in your meeting minutes.
Step 7: Set up a corporate records binder
Meticulous minutes should be taken for every board meeting and kept on file in a corporate records binder or online cloud for as long as your organization exists. Store minutes along with your organization’s other important documents, including its:
- Articles of Incorporation
- IRS determination letter
- EIN letter
Step 8: Get federal and state tax ID numbers
In the US, a nonprofit’s federal tax ID number is known as its Employer Identification Number or EIN. Apply for your EIN on the IRS website or let ZenBusiness help you get your EIN from the IRS.
Indiana nonprofit entities must also have a state Tax Identification Number, or TIN. To secure your organization’s TIN, register here. Please note that there’s a due date for submitting this form. It must be turned in within 120 days of your entity’s incorporation.
Step 9: Apply for all licenses and permits
As a founder, it’s your duty to obtain all necessary licenses and permits for your nonprofit. Because requirements vary at the local, state, and federal levels and by industry, each nonprofit may need different licenses and permits. Unfortunately, there’s no one-stop resource for looking up which ones you need. Save yourself the time and frustration. Get a complete, accurate report of all licenses and permits your nonprofit needs using ZenBusiness’s business license report service.
Step 10: Apply for tax-exempt status
Next, apply for tax-exempt status, which is usually a 501(c)(3) status. Having this status ensures the IRS recognizes that your organization is tax-exempt as a charitable nonprofit. To apply, you’ll need to fill out Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ and submit it online.
On average, application processing takes 3 to 6 months. After the IRS processes your application, you should receive an IRS determination letter.
Within 120 days of receiving your IRS approval letter, apply for Indiana state sales tax-exempt status with the Indiana Department of Revenue using Form NP-20A.
Step 11: Registering as a charity with the state
Indiana’s laws don’t require registration before you can begin fundraising in the state. If your nonprofit raises funds outside of Indiana, it may need to register as a charity in other states.
Keep in mind that if you decide to work with a professional solicitor, then that person must be registered with the state of Indiana.
Step 12: Acquire insurance for your nonprofit
Operating a nonprofit corporation has risks. Your entity may need one or more kinds of insurance to protect it from liability and loss. We suggest you contact a qualified insurance agent who can customize a policy for your organization’s needs.
Step 13: Open a bank account
To open an account for your nonprofit, you’ll need several pieces of documentation. These often include your EIN, TIN, and Articles of Incorporation. You’ll also need Social Security numbers and government-issued photo IDs for anyone who’ll be making transactions on your nonprofit’s behalf.
Ready to Kickstart Your Business?
At ZenBusiness, we are proud to support small businesses through a variety of different tools and services. Whether you need a registered agent service, want to reserve a business name, or looking to register a domain, our goal is to help you stay on the road to success. Check out our services, and contact us today to see how we can help you grow your company.
Indiana Nonprofit Corporation FAQs
- Can the founder of an Indiana nonprofit receive a salary?
The founder of a nonprofit usually ends up serving as either the chairman of the board or the chief executive officer. In this role, the founder may collect a reasonable salary in exchange for work performed on behalf of the nonprofit and its mission. It has to be roughly in line with similar positions.
- How much does it cost to start an Indiana nonprofit corporation?
There is a $50 fee for filing your Articles of Incorporation.
- What happens if an Indiana nonprofit makes money?
Although a nonprofit’s purpose is to help people, it is still a business entity and may have surplus revenue. As long as the money is eventually used for the group’s tax-exempt purposes, this is fine.
- What kinds of businesses in Indiana can be nonprofit?
Many types of businesses can be eligible for nonprofit status. Generally speaking, a business may be considered a nonprofit if its purpose is to benefit the community instead of turning a profit for its founders. For example, a nonprofit may be a charity that focuses on educational or humanitarian work.
- Can Indiana nonprofits sell products?
Yes, but the sales may be subject to Indiana sales taxes. If a nonprofit sells products for 30 or fewer days in a calendar year, it is exempt from sales tax that year. Otherwise, it has to collect and remit sales tax.
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