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Exempt Organization - Bylaws

Bylaws are an organization's internal operating rules. Federal tax law does not require specific language in the bylaws of most organizations.  State law may require nonprofit corporations to have bylaws, however, and nonprofit organizations generally find it advisable to have internal operating rules. 


State Law Requirements for Bylaws

For additional information on what the state may require with respect to bylaws, you may want to contact state officials.

Annual Accounting Period

Exempt organizations must keep books, reports and file returns based on an annual accounting period called a tax year.  A tax year is usually 12 consecutive months.  Organizations that want to specify an annual accounting period generally do so in their bylaws.

There are two kinds of tax years:

  • Calendar Tax Year
    This is a period of 12 consecutive months beginning January 1 and ending December 31; or
  • Fiscal Tax Year
    This is a period of 12 consecutive months ending on the last day of any month except December.

Required Provisions

Federal tax law does not require specific language in the bylaws of most organizations.


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 14-Mar-2014