Article Archives >> To the Point

How do you find out if an organization has 501 (c)(3) status in your state or another state?

I am not sure what you mean by 501(c)(3) status in a state.  The 501(c)(3) charitable status is a federal status that means the organization does not have to pay tax on its surplus income and that individuals and corporations may claim a charitable contribution deduction for contributions made to it.  501(c)(3) charities have that status for federal purposes no matter where they operate within the United States.

If you want to check the federal status, it is possible to check on line at www.guidestar.org, which contains the Form 990 tax information returns for most charities in the country but is not an official list, or on the IRS website, which provides the official list. The most direct way, of course, is to ask the organization. If it is a charity and files a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF tax information return, it is obligated to give you a copy. (See Ready Reference Page: “Tax Exempts Must Provide Applications, Returns.”)

If you want to check whether the organization is registered to solicit charitable contributions in one of the 39 states or the District of Columbia that require many charities to register before soliciting, you can go to the website of the state charity regulator and you may be able to determine whether it has registered. 

Rev: 1/19/2010

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