How to Form an Illinois Nonprofit Corporation or 501c3

The first step in forming an Illinois 501c3 Nonprofit Corporation is registering your nonprofit corporation with Cyberdrive, the official website of the Illinois Secretary of State and the Business Services Division, located in the State Capitol in Springfield. To do so, simply draft and file your Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation with the Business Services Division.

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After your nonprofit corporation is registered with the state, if your business is formed for scientific, religious, charitable, literary, or educational purposes, you can apply for 501c3 status with the IRS. This status, and the tax benefits associated with the status, are not available to businesses formed for profit or to nonprofit corporations not formed for one of the above purposes. If you improperly attempt to gain 501c3 status, your application will be denied.

Register your Nonprofit Corporation in Illinois

Your Nonprofit Corporation’s Articles of Incorporation will include much the same information as a for-profit Illinois corporation, with the exception of a more detailed purpose statement and, if applicable, the clauses required by the IRS in order to later obtain 501c3 status.

Your Nonprofit Articles will include, at minimum, the following:

  • Business name, including the appropriate corporate suffix
  • Board of Directors, numbering at least three
  • Registered Agent’s name and physical address
  • Incorporator
  • Signature
  • Other provisions, which would include 501c3 language

Once placed on file by the Secretary of State, your organization becomes a legal entity authorized to do business in the state of Illinois. Your next step, if your intention is to become a 501c3 Nonprofit, is to apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS.

Applying for 501c3 Tax-Exempt Status from the IRS

There is a great deal of information the IRS will need about your business in order to grant you tax-exempt status. Some of the information you can expect to provide is as follows:

  • Form 1023
  • Articles of Incorporation, including specific 501c3 language
  • Three years of donation estimates
  • Detailed description of your business activities
  • Three years of expense estimates
  • Bylaws
  • Conflict of Interest form
  • Information about any organization from which you are involved in fundraising or donations
  • Depending on the amount of compensation they are to receive, a list of any independent contractors or officers
  • Copies of any leases or contracts with any of the above persons

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the information the IRS will require. Depending on your specific purpose, additional forms and information may be required.

When you use Click and Inc to file your 501c3, we make sure the required 501c3 language is present in your state Articles of Incorporation from the very beginning. Learn more about forming a 501c3 Nonprofit.

Further Responsibilities of a Illinois Nonprofit Corporation

All incorporated entities in Illinois, whether nonprofit or for-profit, must submit an Annual Report to the Secretary of State’s office. Failure to do so may result in a revoked status or late fees.

If any of the information provided to either the state or the IRS changes, it is extremely important that you file the appropriate amendment document with one or both levels of government. Failure to do so may result in penalties, late fees, or the termination of your business.

You will be required to obtain an Employee Identification Number, also known as an EIN. The EIN is obtained through the IRS. It is best to check with the IRS or a legal advisor to determine what other IRS requirements are present for a 501c3 Corporation.

Depending on your purpose and your local jurisdictions, you may be required to open any number of Business Licenses at the state, county, or town level. Learn more about our Business License Services to streamline the process.

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