Helpful Hints — 501(c)(3) filing for USAFL clubs

If you’re a new Australian rules football club (or an existing one), obtaining 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the U.S. government can provide your organization with a number of benefits, including tax-deductible status.

In some states, this can give you the option to not pay sales tax on items for your club, and it can also allow your donors and sponsors to write off their donation to your club on their annual tax return.

Luckily there’s a new, faster way to get 501(c)(3) status that most of the clubs in the USAFL fall under, and that form is called the 1023-EZ. Here’s a list of instructions that will help guide you through the process:

  1. Complete the 1023-EZ eligibility worksheet—this is the very first thing you need to do. Read through each of the 30 questions. To be eligible for the 1023-EZ application, each question must be answered with a “no.” If you answer “yes” to even one, you are not eligible for the EZ form and must complete the application via the standard process. This worksheet is for your records and information and does not need to be submitted to any entity.
  2. File articles of incorporation (AOI) with your local Secretary of State. There is typically a one-time fee to file this, and that amount varies by state. This is where you choose the name of your organization. The Centennial Tigers are officially registered with the State of Colorado and the federal government as the Colorado Suburban Australian Rules Football Club, Inc.
  3. It is integral and mandatory that you file as an INCORPORATED entity, not a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). If you do not file as a corporation or do not include the “Inc.” at the end of your organization name, your application will not get approved.
  4. You must also have a board and vote in officers in an official manner, such as at a board meeting. These board members must be listed in the AOI.
  5. A huge part of being qualified for the 1023-EZ form approval process is ensuring you have a dissolution clause AND a purpose clause in the AOI. These can be found by simply doing a web search and applying your information.
  6. Once you file your AOI, the next day you can file for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) with the IRS. This number is immediately allocated to you.
  7. Once you have your FEIN, you can then file the 1023-EZ form on the IRS website. There is a one-time registration fee, which was $275 in 2020. It must be filed electronically. Follow the directions on the form and triple check that everything is correct and accurate. If you have one mistake on the form, it will be rejected.
  8. The typical approval time is 30 days, and that includes receiving your official letter via the US Postal Service. NOTE: the IRS does random audits of 1023-EZ applications, and if your application is randomly selected, the approval time can be extended.
  9. Once you have received your approval letter, make several copies to have on hand. The FEIN will be the number you give to sponsors for their tax deductions.
  10. At the end of each year, you must file a 990-N e-postcard to receive your nonprofit status each year. This can be found on the IRS website, and the IRS will also mail you reminders.
  11. If you have multiple teams under your organization, or if you want to have a general name for the nonprofit, but have a specific name for the team (such as what the Centennial Tigers did), you can file for multiple trade names with your Secretary of State that are linked to the overarching nonprofit name.
  12. You may need to file a charitable registration with your Secretary of State. Research this with your state.
  13. Ensure you take minutes and partake in formal board meetings. If by chance you are audited by the federal government, you want to be able to prove you have followed all the rules and requirements to have the 501(c)(3) status. Use a file management system to store these documents in an easily accessible location for your board.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the Centennial Tigers, and we can try to assist you any way we can. Let’s all work together to grow the game!

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