Tax-exempt groups or nonprofits in Ohio receive exemption from federal and state taxes, although they still have to pay payroll tax and the city income tax levied in most Ohio communities. The path to becoming tax-exempt requires lots of organization and paperwork, and rewards you in the end with a 501(c)3 or tax-exempt designation.
Register your name with the Ohio Secretary of State, which prevents other groups from taking your organization's name. You can either complete Form 534 for a "permanent" right to your name (which you must renew every five years) or Form 544, which gives you the name for three months. Send the form to the Secretary of State and pay the $50 filing fee.
Get an EIN or Employment Identification Number. The Ohio Environmental Council recommends calling as the fastest way to get going, but you can also complete then mail Form SS-4 to the Internal Revenue Service. The telephone number is (800) 829-4933. Wait to receive your EIN number, which allows you to open a bank account for your group.
Develop bylaws that give your organization structure. This makes the road to tax-exempt status easier. Bylaws should address your group's purpose, structure, members, rules, meetings and overall organization.
Complete Form 532 and pay the $125 filing fee to become an Ohio corporation under your name, sending the paperwork to the Secretary of State.
Complete Form 1023. Mail this form to the IRS, and then wait to receive proof of tax exemption. You'll need to describe your group's activities in the application. You will also need to include the bylaws in your application, and prior financial data for up to three years, if applicable. If you're a new group, submit current financial data plus proposed expenditures for two years. Also submit Form 8718 and check the appropriate box certifying your financial status.
You may wish to purchase liability insurance to protect your organization and its members, but this is not required of Ohio tax-exempt groups.