Disaster Relief: Federal Tax Law Requirements for Forming Charities


What are the federal tax requirements to form a charity to help disaster victims?

A new charitable organization with anticipated annual gross receipts over $5,000 must apply for tax-exempt status from the IRS. (There are exceptions to this general rule - churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques may, but are not required to, apply for recognition of tax-exempt status). Publication 3833, Disaster Relief: Providing Assistance Through Charitable OrganizationsPDF, discusses establishing a new charitable organization to provide disaster relief.   For information about creating an organization that will qualify for tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3), see Life Cycle of a Public Charity - Starting Out.

An organization must use Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption, to apply for recognition of tax-exempt status. Applying to the IRS provides more information on the application process.