Non-Profits: Taxes And Accounting

Taxes And Accounting - Complete Controller

It is common knowledge that tax exemption is not straightforward; it takes a lot of time and effort to get it correctly. Tax exemption recognized by the IRS allows you to devote your financial resources to charitable causes instead of paying taxes. Tax accounting for non-profits includes similar accounting procedures for running an ethical business.

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Determine Your Charitable Organization Type

The first task is to determine the type of charitable organization you run, whether it is a trust, corporation, or association. A charitable organization can be a sole proprietorship or a partnership. There are many different organizations to choose from. You should select the organization you relate to the most.

Filing Proper Tax Accounting for Non-Profit

After determining your organization type, the next step is collecting all the necessary documentation for the tax-exempt status. This is one of the essential steps in developing the procedure for tax accounting. Important documents could include the articles of incorporation, any paperwork related to the trust, or the organization’s reports. Ensure all the needed documentation is accurate and complete and not miss critical information.

After gathering all the critical information, you need to complete Form 1023—Application for Recognition of Exemption Under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (or Form 1023-EZ). The report is about 30 pages long and requires all the necessary information. You can also gather information and study to complete these steps accurately.

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Maintain Tax-Exempt Status

Tax accounting for non-profits allows an organization to maintain its tax-exempt status after successfully getting the exemption. Biding by the various rules and regulations is necessary to ensure you keep the exempted status.

It is essential to enlist that the public owns the non-profit. The board of directors conducts the organization’s management to keep the exemption. The board officers can make important policy decisions, including overseeing all non-profit organization activities.

It is necessary to protect the board of directors from personal liability. Sometimes, it may seem complicated, but the members usually have voting rights and use them to make crucial decisions. Such decisions also include amending the organization’s articles or the company’s operational bylaws and electing new members of the non-profit organization.

An essential part of having a tax exemption status is to have a detailed record of every transaction conducted while determining the tax accounting for the non-profit. Most organizations use a double-entry transaction system to have all necessary documentation in the paper trails. Under the IRS-recognized tax-exempt status, the responsibility of senior management is to restrict activities and file all the paperwork on time when they are due for submission. Tax accounting for non-profits also includes the following:

  • The organization must not make any contribution to any political campaign.
  • The non-profit is not allowed to donate anything to any political party.
  • Non-profits are allowed to conduct limited lobbying, but the process is heavily restricted.
  • The non-profit must not provide revenue or profit based on its charitable activities.
  • Salaries and other operational costs are permitted.

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Increased Scrutiny of Non-Profits

 The IRS amplified its scrutiny of charitable organizations around 2007, holding tax-exempt organizations further accountable for their work. Hence, proper tax accounting for non-profits is essential. Continual variations in accounting and auditing standards increase costs to the certified public accountant or CPA, but establishments may not have improved their budgets to compensate. Make sure you are prepared for your taxes.


In conclusion, navigating tax exemption for non-profits demands meticulous attention to detail and adherence to IRS regulations. From determining organizational type to maintaining tax-exempt status, each step requires thorough documentation and compliance. With proper tax accounting practices, non-profits can ensure transparent financial management, enabling them to focus on their charitable missions. Despite increased scrutiny from the IRS, diligent adherence to tax regulations ensures that non-profits can continue their vital work effectively.

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