Basic Training: Forming a U.S. Charity

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq., owner of Ask The Business Lawyer, is an award-winning business attorney, speaker, and Entrepreneur Magazine online contributor. She saves consulting and professional services companies time, money, and aggravation by serving as their outsourced legal counsel.

Posted on May 24, 2017 in Form a Company

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Q. :  I want to register a Charity in the USA. I’m a citizen of Nepal and currently residing in Nepal. To promote the charity and its presence in US I want to register it in USA. How can I go about this?

A.:  When you register a charity in the United States, you actually have to choose a specific state where you intend to register (there is no country-wide law concerning the initial registration of charities).  The choice of “which state is best for registration” may depend on (1) where you think more of your donors will be based, (2) where your charity’s board is likely to live, or (3) other factors, depending on the purpose of the charity. Generally, anyone wanting to form a not-for-profit corporation in the U.S. will need to follow these steps:

  1. Choose a state and determine the registration requirements (which you can often learn on the websites of the Secretary of State of the state you’ve chosen)
  2. Determine who will serve as your initial Board of Directors (some states require a minimum of 3 people U.S. residents in order to register)
  3. Register as a not-for-profit corporation in that state
  4. File the appropriate forms with the state’s tax department to ensure proper tax treatment
  5. File an application with the Internal Revenue Service to receive not-for-profit tax status (without it, your U.S. donors will not be able to receive a full tax write-off for their donations).

Because there are a number of factors to consider, and as you are currently residing in Nepal, think seriously about working with an attorney in the US (better yet, in the state where you want to register) who specializes in not-for-profit organizations.  It’s a slightly quirky area, so not all business attorneys are familiar with the ins and outs.

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