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Can we acquire another’s exempt status?

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Can we acquire another’s exempt status?

We are planning to start a nonprofit and another nonprofit group that closed down is offering us its 501(c) status for our new organization. Is this possible?

It isn’t possible to transfer exempt status from one group to another. You could effectively accomplish the same result by merely taking over the other organization (See Ready Reference Page: “Mergers and Acquisitions Can Take Many Forms”) and not bothering to start your own new entity. I wouldn’t recommend it, however.
 
Even if the group has the same exempt status as what you want to acquire, an organization that has closed down has probably had a lot of problems, may not have paid all of its bills or filed all of its required returns, and may have a lot of disgruntled members or participants. If it failed to file a tax information return for three years it will have lost its exempt status. It may have been administratively dissolved for failing to file state reports. If you take over the body, you will be subject to all of its aches and pains. It would be better to start your own new entity and focus on your own program than to try to save a little time and a few bucks by acquiring an unknown past that could easily cost more time and more money to deal with.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
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