Tax-Exempt Organization Reference Chart

Derived from “IRS Publication 557: Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization (1997)”

Note: This table may not include every type of organization that qualifies for some form of federal tax-exemption. It should not be considered legal advice or otherwise used to determine matters of law, and is provided for educational purposes only.

Section of 1986 Tax Code Description of organization General nature of activities Application Form Annual return required to be filed Contributions allowable
501(c)(1) Corporations Organized Under Act of Congress (including Federal Credit Unions) Instrumentalities of the United States No Form None Yes, if made for exclusively public purposes
501(c)(2) Title Holding Corporation For Exempt Organization Holding title to property of an exempt organization 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(3) Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animals Organizations Activities of nature implied by description of class of organization 1023 9901, 990EZ8, or 990-PF Yes, generally
All 501(c)(3) organizations are further categorized as one of five types under IRC 509(a):
Sub-class Section Description
Private foundations All 501(c)(3) organizations that don’t qualify as public charities. Some private foundations are additionally subclassified as private operating foundations or private non-operating foundations, which receive some of the advantages of public charities.
Public charities 509(a)(1) Publicly-supported charities.
509(a)(2) Exempt purpose activity-supported charities.
509(a)(3) Supporting organizations for 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2) charities.
509(a)(4) Public safety charities.
501(c)(4) Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees Promotion of community welfare; charitable, educational or recreational 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 No, generally 2,3
501(c)(5) Labor, Agricultural, and Horticultural Organizations Educational or instructive, the purpose being to improve conditions of work, and to improve products and efficiency 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(6) Business Leagues, Chambers of Commerce, Real Estate Boards, Etc. Improvement of business conditions of one or more lines of business 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(7) Social and Recreation Clubs Pleasure, recreation, social activities 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(8) Fraternal Beneficiary Societies and Associations Lodge providing for payment of life, sickness, accident, or other benefits to members 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 Yes, if for certain Sec. 501(c)(3) purposes
501(c)(9) Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Associations Providing for payment of life, sickness, accident or other benefits to members 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(10) Domestic Fraternal Societies and Associations Lodge devoting its net earnings to charitable, fraternal, and other specified purposes. No life, sickness, or accident benefits to members 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 Yes, if for certain Sec. 501(c)(3) purposes
501(c)(11) Teachers’ Retirement Fund Associations Teachers’ association for payment of retirement benefits No Form6 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(12) Benevolent Life Insurance Associations, Mutual Ditch or Irrigation Companies, Mutual or Cooperative Telephone Companies, Etc. Activities of a mutually beneficial nature similar to those implied by the description of class of organization 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(13) Cemetery Companies Burials and incidental activities 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 Yes, generally
501(c)(14) State Chartered Credit Unions, Mutual Reserve Funds Loans to members No Form6 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(15) Mutual Insurance Companies or Associations Providing insurance to members substantially at cost 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(16) Cooperative Organizations to Finance Crop Operations Financing crop operations in conjunction with activities of a marketing or purchasing association No Form6 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(17) Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Trusts Provides for payment of supplemental unemployment compensation benefits 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(18) Employee Funded Pension Trust (created before June 25, 1959) Payment of benefits under a pension plan funded by employees No Form6 9901 or 990EZ8 No2
501(c)(19) Post or Organization of Past or Present Members of the Armed Forces Activities implied by nature of organization 1024 9901 or 990EZ8 No, generally7
501(c)(20) Group Legal Services Plan Organizations n/a n/a n/a n/a
501(c)(21) Black Lung Benefit Trusts Funded by coal mine operators to satisfy their liability for disability or death due to black lung diseases No Form6 990-BL No4
501(c)(22) Withdrawal Liability Payment Fund To provide funds to meet the liability of employers withdrawing from a multi-employer pension fund No Form6 990 or 990EZ8 No5
501(c)(23) Veterans Organization (created before 1880) To provide insurance and other benefits to veterans No Form6 990 or 990EZ8 No, generally7
501(c)(25) Title Holding Corporations or Trusts with Multiple Parents Holding title and paying over income from property to 35 or fewer parents or beneficiaries 1024 990 or 990EZ No
501(c)(26) State-Sponsored Organization Providing Health Coverage for High-Risk Individuals Provides health care coverage to high-risk
individuals
No Form6 9901 or 990EZ8 No
501(c)(27) State-Sponsored Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance Organization Reimburses members for losses under workers’ compensation acts No Form6 9901 or 990EZ8 No
501(d) Religious and Apostolic Associations Regular business activities. Communal religious community No Form 10659 No2
501(e) Cooperative Hospital Service Organizations Performs cooperative services for hospitals 1023 9901 or 990EZ8 Yes
501(f) Cooperative Service Organizations of Operating Educational Organizations Performs collective investment services for educational organizations 1023 9901 or 990EZ8 Yes
501(k) Child Care Organization Provides care for children 1023 990 or 990EZ8 Yes
501(n) Charitable Risk Pools Pools certain insurance risks of 501(c)(3) 1023 9901 or 990EZ8 Yes
521(a) Farmers’ Cooperative Associations Cooperative marketing and purchasing for agricultural producers 1028 990-C No

1 For exceptions to the filing requirement, see Chapter 2 and the Form instructions.

2 An organization exempt under a Subsection of Code section 501 other than (c)(3), may establish a charitable fund, contributions to which are deductible. Such a fund must itself meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3) and the related notice requirements of section 508(a).

3 Contributions to volunteer fire companies and similar organizations are deductible, but only if made for exclusively public purposes.

4 Deductible as a business expense to the extent allowed by Code section 192.

5 Deductible as a business expense to the extent allowed by Code section 194A.

6 Application is by letter to the address shown on Form 8718. A copy of the organizing document should be attached and the letter should be signed by an officer.

7 Contributions to these organizations are deductible only if 90% or more of the organization’s members are war veterans.

8 For limits on the use of Form 990EZ, see Chapter 2 and the general instructions for Form 990EZ (or Form 990).

9 Although the organization files a partnership return, all distributions are deemed dividends. The members are not entitled to ‘‘pass-through” treatment of the organization’s income or expenses.

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