To form a corporation in Maine that exists for charitable, educational, religious, humanitarian, or some other purpose than profit, there are certain steps to follow. We’ll show you how to form a nonprofit corporation in Maine and apply for tax-exempt status.
Steps to Form a Maine Nonprofit Corporation
- Select initial directors
- Choose a name
- Choose a Maine registered agent
- File Articles of Incorporation
- Create corporate bylaws
- Hold the initial organizational meeting
- Create a corporate records binder
- Get tax ID numbers
- Apply for licenses and permits
- Apply for tax-exempt status
- Register as a charity with the state
- Acquire insurance
- Open a bank account
Step 1: Select initial directors
Your first step is to pick your initial directors for your Maine nonprofit corporation. Under Maine law, you’ll need to name at least three directors. Those directors don’t need to be residents of Maine nor do they need to be members of your nonprofit.
Step 2: Choose a name
Choosing the right name for your Maine nonprofit corporation is key. Pick a name that lets people know the purpose of your Maine nonprofit corporation. Remember, you’ll need to check at the Maine Secretary of State’s website to see if that name is in use.
Once you find the right name, you may want to make sure that no one scoops it up. You can reserve your desired name before filing your Articles of Incorporation. You can complete this process through the state or by using ZenBusiness’s business name reservation service.
Your next step is to determine if there’s a domain name available that fits your Maine nonprofit corporation. To save time and hassle, check out the ZenBusiness domain name service to help ensure that the domain name aligns with your business and to secure it.
Step 3: Choose a Maine registered agent
If you’re going to start a Maine nonprofit corporation, you’ll need a registered agent. The purpose of the registered agent is to receive government correspondence. In Maine, your registered agent must reside in the state and operate an office open during regular business hours.
You can be your own registered agent, but we don’t recommend it since you’ll have to be in your office at all times during normal business hours. You’re going to have issues getting your Maine nonprofit corporation off the ground, why include one more hassle? ZenBusiness can eliminate this inconvenient responsibility with our registered agent service. ZenBusiness’s registered agent providers will accept these documents on your behalf and upload them to your Maine nonprofit corporation’s dashboard. You can view them or download them when needed.
Step 4: File Articles of Incorporation with the Maine Secretary of State
Your next important step is to create and file your Articles of Incorporation with the Maine Secretary of State. It must include your nonprofit’s name, its purpose, the name and address of your Maine nonprofit corporation’s registered agent, the initial number of directors, and the names and addresses of your nonprofit’s incorporators. (Incorporators don’t need to be directors or employees of your nonprofit.)
You can mail these documents or drop them off in person to:
Maine Secretary of State Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions Burton Cross Building 111 Sewall St., 4th Floor
Augusta, ME 04323
It normally takes about seven to 10 days for these documents to be processed. You can pay expedited fees to speed up processing times. The standard filing fee is $40 with expedited processing available for an additional $50-$100. Additional fees apply for reserving a name and making other filings.
Step 5: Create corporate bylaws for your Maine nonprofit corporation
These are the documents that determine how to operate your Maine nonprofit corporation. Your bylaws will deal with important issues like how to settle disagreements, how to appoint or replace board members, and how to deal with conflicts of interest.
Step 6: Hold the initial organizational meeting for the board of directors
At this meeting, you’ll elect directors, who will approve or amend the bylaws. They’ll appoint officers, choose a bank for your financial dealings, and any other important initial business.
Step 7: Create a corporate records binder or other means of keeping records
Keep minutes of board of directors’ meetings and decisions made by the directors of your Maine nonprofit corporation in a physical binder or in the cloud. Don’t forget to include copies of financial documents, tax documents, important correspondence, your bylaws, and your Articles of Incorporation.
Step 8: Get tax ID numbers
You need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your Maine nonprofit corporation for state or federal tax filings, to hire employees, to open a bank account, and to apply for tax-exempt status. You can apply for an EIN on the IRS website. Alternatively, you can use ZenBusiness’s EIN service to save valuable time and help ensure an error-free application.
Step 9: Apply for licenses and permits
Maine doesn’t require nonprofits to have a statewide business license. You may need permits or licenses on a local, state, or federal basis. For instance, you’ll need to apply for a license to hold events like a casino night or a regular bingo evening to raise funds. Currently, there’s no central place to check what permits and licenses may be needed. ZenBusiness, however, has a business license report service that can keep you up-to-date on what licenses and permits your Maine nonprofit corporation will need.
Step 10: Apply for tax-exempt status
Tax-exempt status for a nonprofit corporation, known as a 501(c)(3), will allow you to fundraise, apply for grants, issue tax receipts for donations, and not pay taxes on funds raised as part of your Maine nonprofit corporation’s purpose. After you receive your tax-exempt status from the federal government, you won’t need to apply for one in Maine.
You’ll be asked for a lot of information about your Maine corporate nonprofit — its purpose, its organizational structure, its financial plans, etc. The language used is important, so check the IRS site. The size of your nonprofit will also make a difference. Smaller corporate nonprofits that make less than $50,000 a year can use Form 1023-EZ. Larger nonprofit corporations will need to file a regular 1023.
Step 11: Register as a charity with the state
Your Maine nonprofit corporation will need to file an application with the Maine Office of Professional and Financial Regulation if you are going to fundraise or accept donations.
Step 12: Acquire insurance
You might think running a Maine nonprofit corporation means you’ll never be sued. Never assume. The kind of corporate nonprofit you run often determines the kind of insurance you’ll need. Your best bet is to talk to a qualified insurance agent.
Step 13: Open a bank account
You’ll need several items to open your account: your EIN, your Articles of Incorporation, and the names and Social Security numbers of anyone authorized to make transactions for your Maine corporate nonprofit.
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.
Maine Nonprofit Corporation FAQs
- Can the founder of a Maine nonprofit corporation receive a salary?
Yes. The founder of a Maine nonprofit corporation can receive a salary as an employee as long as that individual plays an active role in the organization.
- How much does it cost to start a nonprofit corporation in Maine?
Normally it costs between $315 and $680 to start a Maine nonprofit corporation. That includes fees for reserving your name, filing your Articles of Incorporation, and applying for tax-exempt status or local licenses or permits. If you work with a lawyer, add a couple of thousand dollars to the cost.
- What happens if a Maine nonprofit corporation makes money?
If you make enough money to cover your expenses plus extra, it’s perfectly legal if it’s made while undertaking your mission. That money goes back into improving your Maine nonprofit corporation.
- What kinds of Maine businesses can be nonprofit?
Most Maine nonprofit corporations are started to fulfill a pressing need in their communities and often focus on religious, social, health, educational, or charitable needs.
- Can Maine nonprofits sell products?
Yes. For instance, if you run a Maine nonprofit corporation that protects endangered animals, it’s okay to sell T-shirts or posters that promote your mission.
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