In an attempt to provide information to individuals desiring to start a
non-profit organization in Maryland, the Charitable Organizations Division of the Office of
the Secretary of State has gathered information set forth below on the necessary steps to form a
While every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information,
please be advised that specific questions and information should be directed to
the appropriate agency.
Maryland Association of Non Profit
Organizations, Inc has put together a checklist for starting a nonprofit
organization in Maryland. Click here for a pdf copy of their checklist.
Federal Income Tax Exemption
Most charitable organizations are classified by the Internal
Revenue Service as tax-exempt organizations. The benefit of obtaining the tax-exempt status is that
the organization is not liable for any federal income tax. Applications for this status are made to the
Internal Revenue Service. If tax-exempt status is granted, the organization will receive a tax
determination letter. It is usually during this process that your organization will be designated an employee
identification number or federal identification number. (Please note that these terms are used
interchangeably.) This number is also required for many of the exemptions described below
Being a tax-exempt entity does not automatically make donations to your organization tax deductible for the donor.
Since most charitable organizations are considered section 501(c)(3) organizations, donations to these
charities are generally tax deductible for the donor. Your organization's tax determination
letter will state whether contributions to your organization are considered tax deductible.
To obtain the necessary forms to apply for tax exemption, please contact the Internal Revenue Service by calling (toll free)
1-877-829-5500, using the IRS fax system at 703-368-9694, or downloading the forms from the
IRS's website. The required forms are:
- Form SS-4: Application for Employer Identification Number;
- Form 8718: User Fee for Exempt Organization Determination Letter Request;
- Form 1023: Application for Recognition of Exemption for 501(c)(3) Organizations; or
- Form 1024: Application for Recognition of Exemption for all other exempt statuses.
To access these forms via the fax system, you must dial directly from your fax
machine. Although Forms 1023 and 1024 are not accessible via the fax line, the catalog
numbers for Form SS-4 and Form 8718 are 16055 and 64728, respectively.
State Income Tax Exemption
Upon receiving an IRS tax determination letter stating that your organization is exempt
income taxes, your organization may also apply for an exemption from state income
taxes. The Comptroller of the Treasury is the state agency responsible for acknowledging an
exemption from Maryland income tax.
To apply for a state income tax exemption, your organization should submit to the Legal Department
of the Revenue Administration Division the following information:
- Request for exemption from Maryland income tax;
- An explanation of the nature, purpose, and scope of your organization;
- A copy of the IRS tax determination letter;
- A copy of your organization's by-laws; and
- A copy of the latest financial statement of your organization.
When the request for an exemption has been granted, no income tax returns need
to be filed with the Comptroller unless your organization files an IRS Form 990-T. (The Form
990-T is required if your organization has unrelated business income.)
The request for a state income tax exemption and the supporting documentation
should be forwarded to the Comptroller of the Treasury, Revenue Administration
Division, 110 Carroll Street, Annapolis MD 21411 and to the attention of the
Legal Department. The telephone numbers of the Revenue Administration Division
are 1-800-MD TAXES (638-2937) and 410-260-7980.
Formal Structure of a Tax Exempt Entity
Before the Internal Revenue Service can issue your organization tax-exempt status, your
organization must be formed as either an association, corporation, or trust. A copy of the organizing
document (i.e., articles of incorporation approved and dated by appropriate state official,
constitution or articles of association, or signed and dated trust instrument) must be filed with the IRS's
Application for Recognition of Exemption.
In Maryland, corporate charter information is filed with the State
Department of Assessments and Taxation. To assist non-profit organizations, the agency has
prepared a guideline for articles of incorporation for non-profit organizations which can be obtained by
contacting the agency. The agency's address is 301 West Preston Street, Baltimore MD 21201,
and its telephone number is 410-767-1340. Forms and information can be obtained from
the agency's web site.
Registration with the Office of the Secretary of State as a Charitable Organization
soliciting charitable contributions in Maryland are generally required to register
with the Office of
the Secretary of State as a charitable organization. Registration is required
before soliciting in
Maryland begins and continues on an annual basis.
If your newly formed organization will be soliciting Maryland residents for
(either monetary or in-kind donations), your organization will probably be required
to register with
the Charitable Organizations Division. In most cases, the Exempt Organization
Notice will be the appropriate registration form for new organizations. This
notice is required
for organizations raising less than $25,000 in charitable contributions a year. You
should also note
that if your organization intends on raising funds in other states, you may also be
required to register
in the other states
Registration forms may be obtained in the following ways:
You may contact us
| By mail :
Charitable Organizations Division
Office of the Secretary of State
Annapolis MD 21401
| By Telephone:
Property Tax Exemption
Certain charitable, fraternal, educational, and religious
organizations may be eligible for an exemption from state property tax. Once the property tax exemption is
granted, the exempt status continues until it is revoked. State law, however, grants the State
Department of Assessments and Taxation the authority to conduct periodic reviews of the granted exemptions
to ensure continued compliance with the requirements.
While the tax-exempt status issued by the IRS is required to process the
exemption application, the status granted by the IRS does not automatically guarantee that the
organization's property will be exempt. Based upon the type of organization, there are different standards used
to review a property tax exemption.
To receive an exemption application form or information about the exemption, please contact the State Department of
Assessments and Taxation office for the county in which the property is located. You may find a list of
SDAT local offices, additional information, and copies of the required forms on
Sales and Use Tax Exemption
Non-profit charitable, educational or religious organizations, volunteer fire or ambulance companies or volunteer rescue squads
may also be eligible for sales and use tax exemptions. In Maryland, the Comptroller of the Treasury is
responsible for granting this five-year renewable exemption. In order to be granted an exemption,
your organization must have received a determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service
stating that your organization is exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue
The applicable form can be obtained by contacting the Comptroller at 410-767-1313, using the office's fax line at
410-974-FAXX (3299), or downloading the form from the
The form needed to apply for an exemption from sales and use taxes is Form 2001, the Combined
Registration Application. The fax system will enable you to select Form 2001 from
You can access the fax system by calling the number on the telephone handset of the fax machine, and the requested form
will be forwarded to you immediately. If the fax machine does not have a handset, call from a
touch-tone telephone and the requested documents will be sent to fax machine you designate.
If you have any questions concerning sales and use tax exemption, please contact the Comptroller of the Treasury at
Goldstein Treasury Building, 110 Carroll Street, Annapolis MD 21404-0466 or at 410-767-1318. Forms are also
available at the Baltimore branch office located 301 West Preston Street, Room 206, Baltimore MD 21201-2384.