Nonprofit entities do a lot of good work in Indiana communities—providing a variety of services such as healthcare, housing, and education; funding grants and scholarships; and bringing citizens together in common causes. The tax benefits allocated to nonprofit organizations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the State of Indiana allow these groups to better fulfill their missions, but they also require a specific business entity structure and operating procedures. Whether you are starting a nonprofit in Indiana or managing day-to-day operations, the counsel of an experienced Indiana nonprofit attorney can help ensure all legal requirements are met so you can focus on executing the organization’s work.
Why Do Charitable Organizations Need an Indiana Nonprofit Attorney?
While not designed to make a profit, nonprofit entities are nonetheless structured in many similar ways to for-profit businesses and require many of the same corporate services. While for-profit and nonprofit corporations share some corporate organizational and operating needs, there are also notable differences in the formation, compliance and taxation rules applicable to nonprofits.
Like their for-profit counterparts, nonprofits benefit from the guidance of a knowledgeable business attorney. At Camden & Meridew, P.C., charitable organizations will find an Indiana nonprofit attorney who is also knowledgeable in various aspects of Indiana business law.
What Exactly Is a Nonprofit?
Although many people refer to nonprofit and not-for-profit entities interchangeably, there is a distinction between the two. Nonprofits follow a particular set of rules in their formation, and they acquire a special legal and tax status. “Not-for-profit” is more of a descriptive, but not legally significant, term. Nonprofit does not mean that an organization can’t or doesn’t ever make a profit. Rather, the term generally means that profit is not the intention of the organization and that any profits made are reinvested into the organization.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Start a Nonprofit in Indiana?
At the federal level, there is a comprehensive description of charitable organizations and nonprofits that qualify as such under 26 US Code § 501(c)(3). Additionally, Indiana nonprofit law, specifically Indiana Code § 23-17-3-2, requires a nonprofit corporation to identify itself as one of the following three types of corporation:
- Public benefit;
- Mutual benefit; or
For practical purposes, this means that the list of entities that could benefit from the guidance of the Carmel Fishers nonprofit lawyers at Camden & Meridew is extensive.
Organizations that may benefit from legal counsel regarding federal and Indiana nonprofit requirements include the following:
- Scientific, public safety, literary, social welfare, or educational organizations;
- Churches or other religious organizations;
- Charitable organizations such as private foundations;
- Some political organizations; and
- Myriad other organizations such as social clubs, labor organizations, and civic or business leagues.
So, do you need a lawyer to start a nonprofit? If you are involved with the formation or governance of a tax-exempt, registered nonprofit organization, best business practices call for consultation with an experienced Indiana nonprofit attorney to ensure your organization is properly structured, abides by federal law, and meets all applicable Indiana nonprofit requirements.
What Specific Services Can an Indiana Nonprofit Attorney Offer?
Nonprofit organizations have many of the same needs as any other corporation—they must be formed and properly registered, comply with governing statutes and regulations on an ongoing basis, and follow certain rules upon reorganization or dissolution. Upon formation, Camden & Meridew’s Carmel Fishers nonprofit lawyers can assist you in ensuring that the articles of incorporation, bylaws, and other formative documents are drafted and filed in compliance with Indiana nonprofit law as well as federal laws. Our attorneys can help you complete the correct forms and processes to obtain tax-exempt status and attend to other preliminary legal matters.
Once established, ongoing nonprofit compliance issues include payment of required taxes, filing the required reports with the Indiana Department of Revenue and the IRS annually, handling of payroll issues, and maintaining a corporate secretary and registered agent. In addition, occasional analysis of the nonprofit’s corporate structure and operations may be needed to assess whether a merger with another nonprofit makes sense, reorganization is needed, or winding down the nonprofit altogether is appropriate.
If the decision has been made for a nonprofit corporation to cease operations, the Carmel Fishers nonprofit lawyers at Camden & Meridew can assist with the dissolution, ensuring along the way that winding down operations complies with Indiana Code chapter 23-17-22 are followed, from delivery of the articles of dissolution to the Indiana Secretary of State to the winding up of assets.
Getting Legal Assistance from an Indiana Nonprofit Attorney
Maybe you are in the early stage of development and wondering, “Do you need a lawyer to start a nonprofit?” Perhaps you are involved with an ongoing charitable entity or need to dissolve your nonprofit. In all of the cases, you can benefit from consulting with a business law attorney with nonprofit experience. Corey Meridew is a partner at Camden & Meridew, P.C. He provides extensive business and nonprofit legal services to charitable and nonprofit organizations throughout the state. If you need assistance understanding and complying with laws affecting nonprofits, contact your Indiana nonprofit attorney by calling 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form today.