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 CodeDescription of organizationGeneral nature of activitiesApplication FormAnnual return required to be filedContributions allowable
501(c)(1)Corporations Organized Under Act of Congress (including Federal Credit Unions)Instrumentalities of the United StatesNo FormNoneYes, if made for exclusively public purposes
501(c)(2)Title Holding Corporation For Exempt OrganizationHolding title to property of an exempt organization10249901 or 990EZ8No2
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 OrganizationsActivities of nature implied by description of class of organization10239901, 990EZ8, or 990-PFYes, generally
All 501(c)(3) organizations are further categorized as one of five types under IRC 509(a):
Private foundationsAll 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 charities509(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 EmployeesPromotion of community welfare; charitable, educational or recreational10249901 or 990EZ8No, generally 2,3
501(c)(5)Labor, Agricultural, and Horticultural OrganizationsEducational or instructive, the purpose being to improve conditions of work, and to improve products and efficiency10249901 or 990EZ8No2
501(c)(6)Business Leagues, Chambers of Commerce, Real Estate Boards, Etc.Improvement of business conditions of one or more lines of business10249901 or 990EZ8No2
501(c)(7)Social and Recreation ClubsPleasure, recreation, social activities10249901 or 990EZ8No2
501(c)(8)Fraternal Beneficiary Societies and AssociationsLodge providing for payment of life, sickness, accident, or other benefits to members10249901 or 990EZ8Yes, if for certain Sec. 501(c)(3) purposes
501(c)(9)Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary AssociationsProviding for payment of life, sickness, accident or other benefits to members10249901 or 990EZ8No2
501(c)(10)Domestic Fraternal Societies and AssociationsLodge devoting its net earnings to charitable, fraternal, and other specified purposes. No life, sickness, or accident benefits to members10249901 or 990EZ8Yes, if for certain Sec. 501(c)(3) purposes
501(c)(11)Teachers’ Retirement Fund AssociationsTeachers’ association for payment of retirement benefitsNo Form69901 or 990EZ8No2
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 organization10249901 or 990EZ8No2
501(c)(13)Cemetery CompaniesBurials and incidental activities10249901 or 990EZ8Yes, generally
501(c)(14)State Chartered Credit Unions, Mutual Reserve FundsLoans to membersNo Form69901 or 990EZ8No2
501(c)(15)Mutual Insurance Companies or AssociationsProviding insurance to members substantially at cost10249901 or 990EZ8No2
501(c)(16)Cooperative Organizations to Finance Crop OperationsFinancing crop operations in conjunction with activities of a marketing or purchasing associationNo Form69901 or 990EZ8No2
501(c)(17)Supplemental Unemployment Benefit TrustsProvides for payment of supplemental unemployment compensation benefits10249901 or 990EZ8No2
501(c)(18)Employee Funded Pension Trust (created before June 25, 1959)Payment of benefits under a pension plan funded by employeesNo Form69901 or 990EZ8No2
501(c)(19)Post or Organization of Past or Present Members of the Armed ForcesActivities implied by nature of organization10249901 or 990EZ8No, generally7
501(c)(20)Group Legal Services Plan Organizationsn/an/an/an/a
501(c)(21)Black Lung Benefit TrustsFunded by coal mine operators to satisfy their liability for disability or death due to black lung diseasesNo Form6990-BLNo4
501(c)(22)Withdrawal Liability Payment FundTo provide funds to meet the liability of employers withdrawing from a multi-employer pension fundNo Form6990 or 990EZ8No5
501(c)(23)Veterans Organization (created before 1880)To provide insurance and other benefits to veteransNo Form6990 or 990EZ8No, generally7
501(c)(25)Title Holding Corporations or Trusts with Multiple ParentsHolding title and paying over income from property to 35 or fewer parents or beneficiaries1024990 or 990EZNo
501(c)(26)State-Sponsored Organization Providing Health Coverage for High-Risk IndividualsProvides health care coverage to high-risk
No Form69901 or 990EZ8No
501(c)(27)State-Sponsored Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance OrganizationReimburses members for losses under workers’ compensation actsNo Form69901 or 990EZ8No
501(d)Religious and Apostolic AssociationsRegular business activities. Communal religious communityNo Form10659No2
501(e)Cooperative Hospital Service OrganizationsPerforms cooperative services for hospitals10239901 or 990EZ8Yes
501(f)Cooperative Service Organizations of Operating Educational OrganizationsPerforms collective investment services for educational organizations10239901 or 990EZ8Yes
501(k)Child Care OrganizationProvides care for children1023990 or 990EZ8Yes
501(n)Charitable Risk PoolsPools certain insurance risks of 501(c)(3)10239901 or 990EZ8Yes
521(a)Farmers’ Cooperative AssociationsCooperative marketing and purchasing for agricultural producers1028990-CNo

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.

2 thoughts on “Tax-Exempt Organization Reference Chart

  1. If a non profit cooperative plans to spend most of it’s surplus on charitable activities which benefit the members and do not plan to pay patronage dividends, can tbe organization be formed as a 501 (c) 3?

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