How to Form a 501(C)(3) Non Profit Corporation in California

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    • 1). Select a name for your corporation. The name should reflect your overall function, purpose or goals.

    • 2). Verify the availability of your chosen name. Send a Name Availability Inquiry Letter (see Resource) to the California Office of the Secretary of State in Sacramento. The exact address appears on the Inquiry Letter form. You will receive notification in the mail alerting you of the availability of your chosen business name. If the name is unavailable, you will have to try again with a different name.

    • 3). Reserve your chosen business name. When you receive notification that your business name is available, respond by sending a Name Reservation Request Form (see Resources) to the Office of the Secretary of State.

    • 4). Fill out an Articles of Incorporation form (see Resources) and submit it to the State of California Business Programs Division, as indicated by the address at the top of the form.

    • 5). Fill out an SI-100 form (see Resources) and mail it to the Office of the Secretary of State. You must submit this no more than 90 days after filing your Articles of Incorporation.

    • 6). Apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the federal government. Fill out the IRS form 1023 (see Resources) and submit it to the address indicated on the last page of the application. When approved, the IRS will send you a determination letter.

    • 7). Apply for exemption from California income tax. Fill out form FTB 3500A (see Resources) and mail it to the California Franchise Tax Board, along with a copy of your IRS determination letter. You will find the exact mailing address on page 3 of the form.

    • 8). Register your corporation with the California Attorney General. Fill out a CT1 form, available at the Attorney General Office website, and submit it to the Office of the Attorney General along with your Articles of Incorporation, IRS determination letter, a copy of your company bylaws, your IRS Form 990 and a brief statement describing the general purpose of your non-profit corporation. You must submit these materials no later than 30 days after you begin business operations.

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