There are a few steps you need to take in order to form a Georgia corporation that is charitable, educational, or religiously motivated. These are 15 basic steps to forming a nonprofit in Georgia. Visit these reference links and consult with an attorney for more information.
- IRS – Information for Charities & Nonprofits
- IRS – Required Provisions for Organizing Documents
- IRS – 990 Series for Tax-Exempt Organizations
- IRS – Applying for Tax-Exempt Status
- IRS – 501(c)(3) Compliance Guide
- Small Business Administration – License and Permits
- Georgia Secretary of State
- Georgia Department of Revenue
Step 1: Choose the initial directors
Georgia law requires you to name one director. However, if you are applying for an IRS tax exemption, it is best to choose at least three. The minimum age for these directors is 18, but there are no residency or membership requirements.
Step 2: Select a name
Choose a name that reflects the purpose of your Georgia non-profit corporation. To check if the name is available, consult the Georgia Secretary-of-State Corporate Division’s business names database. Names must include “corporation”, “company,” or “limited,” and “incorporated,” as well as “Corp,” Co,” “Ltd,” and “Inc.”
After you have chosen a name for your Georgia non-profit corporation, make sure that no one else uses it. This can be done with the Georgia state, and the name will remain in reserve for 30 days. A domain name (website address), may be required for your Georgia nonprofit corporation.
Step 3: Select a Georgia registered agent
A registered agent is required for your Georgia nonprofit corporation. A registered agent is an individual or business who will accept important documents and other legal documents for your nonprofit. The registered agent must be located in Georgia and available during normal business hours.
Step 4: Filing Articles of Incorporation With Georgia
The Georgia Secretary of State will require you to file Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation. These articles will contain the name of your Georgia non-profit corporation, the addresses and names for your registered agent, your incorporators, whether members are planned, and the mailing address of your Georgia nonprofit corp. Online, by mail, or in person.
To transact business in Georgia, foreign (outside-state) entities need to first apply for a Certificate of Authority.
Georgia doesn’t provide Articles of Incorporation forms. However, it does offer guidelines you can follow.
The Secretary of State’s website allows you to file your Articles of Incorporation. You will need to attach a transmittal form if you intend to send them by mail.
Step 5: Publish a Notice Of Incorporation
Georgia law requires you to publish a Notice of Incorporation within the newspaper nearest your physical office the day following submission of your Articles of Incorporation. The newspaper must be the official publication of the county in which you are registered or a newspaper with at least 60% paid subscriptions. You must send the publisher a notice of intent and a payment.
Step 6: Complete your initial annual registration within the first 90 days.
Each Georgia nonprofit corporation must file its initial annual registration with the Secretary of State within the first 90 days after filing Articles of Incorporation. You will need to file your annual register between January 1st and April 30th of the next year after the initial registration.
Step 7: Create corporate rules for your Georgia nonprofit corporation
These bylaws will guide you in running your Georgia nonprofit corporation. Your bylaws should address important issues such as the appointment or replacement of officers and directors, voting procedures, and how to handle conflicts of interest.
Step 8: First meeting of the board of directors
This is one of the most important meetings your Georgia nonprofit corporation will have. This meeting will approve the bylaws and appoint officers. You’ll also select a bank to handle financial matters. The board must meet at the least once per year.
Step 9: Create a corporate records binder, or another means of keeping records
Keep a record of each meeting. Keep the minutes of the meetings and other important documents in a binder, or on the cloud, where they are easily accessible.
Step 10: Get your tax ID numbers
Apply for your Federal Employer ID Number (EIN). This number will enable you to open a bank, hire workers, and file tax returns.
Next, you will need to apply for your Georgia State Tax Identification Number from the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Step 11: Apply for licenses and permits
For your Georgia nonprofit corporation, you will need to apply for several state and local licenses. You will need a different permit to operate a bingo game than a raffle.
Step 12: Apply for tax-exempt status
It is crucial that your Georgia nonprofit corporation obtain federal tax-exempt status. This is usually done under a section 501(3)(c). You can raise money, apply for grants and issue tax receipts to donors or gifts. You are also exempted from federal income taxes.
You should consult the IRS website for information about the terms and information that you will need to use when applying for tax exempt status for your non-profit corporation.
You’ll automatically be exempted from Georgia corporation taxes once you have been granted federal tax-exempt status. Attach your Articles of Incorporation along with the IRS letter granting tax-exempt status for your Georgia tax returns. This form can be used to apply for income tax exclusion.
However, this does not exempt from the Georgia state sales tax. Most Georgia nonprofit corporations are subject to a sales tax.
Step 13: Register with the state as a charity
Register as a charity with Georgia Professional Licensing Boards and Securities Division if you wish to raise funds for your Georgia nonprofit corporation or accept donations.
Step 14: Acquire proper insurance
Workers’ compensation is required for all businesses that have three or more employees, paid or unpaid. Liability insurance is also recommended. The type of Georgia nonprofit corporation that you are running will determine the type of insurance that you need. Talk to an insurance agent licensed to assist you.
Step 15: Open a bank account in Georgia for your Georgia non-profit corporation
To open an account, you will likely need to have a copy of the Articles of Incorporation and your EIN.