Hawaii Nonprofit Corporation

Tax-exempt 501c3 status for your organization

When submitting your Articles of Incorporation, there are two types of corporations you can form in Hawaii: nonprofit corporation and for-profit corporation.

While profits of a for-profit corporation are passed on to shareholders, a nonprofit corporation in Hawaii reinvests its profits—either back into the organization to improve services, or into the community.

However, there are a few important issues to be aware of with regard to tax-exemption.

Registering a Hawaii Nonprofit Corporation

Filing Articles of Incorporation (using Form DNP-1) with the BREG office in Honolulu will form a nonprofit corporation in Hawaii. However, this filing on its own will not give your organization tax exemption, which it would need in order to collect tax-deductible donations, enjoy discounted postal rates, and other benefits tax-exempt organizations might enjoy. (For information about tax exempt organizations, see the below section on 501c3 filings.)

In addition to the Articles of Incorporation, there are a few other requirements to register your nonprofit corporation in Hawaii:

Registered Agent

Any corporation, nonprofit or not, must keep a Registered Agent on file with the BREG offices in Honolulu. The registered agent can be an individual or a business entity (other than the nonprofit corporation being formed); an individual agent must have a physical address in Hawaii, and a business agent must be registered as a Hawaii business.

Registered Agents can be changed at any time, but it is your responsibility to update your organization's records with the state.

Corporate Bylaws

A nonprofit corporation is required to have very specific bylaws. Rather than being filed in a state office, such as the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, your nonprofit bylaws will be adopted by the board of directors and should be kept on file internally.

The bylaws will lay out information that goes beyond that contained in the nonprofit Articles of Incorporation, laying out contingencies for replacing or removing directors or corporate officers, dissolving the corporation and dealing with remaining assets, and so on.

Annual Report

Hawaii nonprofit corporations (as well as for-profit corporations and LLCs) must file an annual report each year following the year of incorporation. Prolonged failure to do so may result in involuntary dissolution.

501c3 Tax Exemption

If you'd like to accept tax-deductible donations under IRS Code 501c3, registering as a nonprofit corporation in Hawaii isn't enough. You'll also need to apply for 501c3 status with the IRS.

501c3 tax-exempt status is only eligible for nonprofit organization registered with one of the following purposes:

  • Educational
  • Scientific
  • Charitable
  • Religious
  • Literary
  • Prevention of animal or child abuse
  • Fostering amateur sports competitions

After you are fully registered as a Hawaii nonprofit corporation, you will send IRS Form 1023 to the IRS. They may take up to 9 months or longer to process the application, so it's important to do this well ahead of scheduling any fundraisers or other activities for which you must officially hold tax-exempt status.

Other Businesses in Hawaii

If a nonprofit corporation isn't right for your situation, take a look at the links below to learn more about other for-profit entity types available in the state: