In order to open a checking account at a bank, your student organization will need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN, or commonly referred to as a tax identification number). In order to apply for an EIN, you will need to complete an application that is available on the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/employer-identification-number. Completing this process decreases the chances the IRS will question whether your organization is liable to pay taxes in the future.
When applying online or via paper, and individual associated with the organization (a President or Treasurer) will need to provide personal information, including a Social Security Number. Questions about applying for an EIN are available at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iss4.pdf.
If applying online, the following steps may be helpful:
Page 1: What type of legal structure is applying for an EIN?
Select “View additional types, including tax-exempt and governmental organizations”
Page 2: Additional types
Select: Community or Volunteer Group Page 3 will ask you to confirm your selection.
Page 4 will ask the principal officer of the organization to enter their information.
Here we suggest a president or treasurer provide this information.
Page 5 will ask for the principal officer’s address and contact information
Page 6 will ask for information about the organization. You should enter the club’s name. For the date that the organization was acquired, select “January” and the year.
Page 7 will ask a variety of questions about your club. You will most likely be able to answer no to all of them.
Page 8 will ask what your business or organization does. Select “Other.”
Page 9 will ask you to specify what activity best describes your organization. Select “Other” and write in the space provided: “university club.”
Page 10 will ask you how you would like to receive your EIN. If you choose to receive it via online letter, you will receive a PDF immediately. You should keep a digital and hard copy for your records.
It is possible that a student organization may have taxable income, if the organization earns money through donations, fundraising, interest accrued from a checking account or sponsorship. However, if your organization has gross receipts (the total amounts the organization received from all sources during its annual accounting period).
$25,000 or less each year, your club most likely does not have a tax liability. Clubs can also apply for non-profit tax-exempt status. However, youshould be aware that is a complex process and will mostly require financial and legal advice from an accountant and attorney, respectively. Regardless of whether you apply for non -profit tax-exempt status, all “organizations exempt from income tax under Internal RevenueCode section 501(a) [which includes most university clubs and organizations] must file an annual information return (Form 990).
Form 990 is an annual information return required to be filed with the IRS by most organizations exempt from income tax under Internal Revenue Code section 501(a).” This includes both organizations officially recognized as tax-exempt (IRS-recognized non-profit organizations) and non-exempt organizations operating as a non-profit (e.g., those “organizations that have not applied for recognition of exemption” but who are not making a profit, re: most student organizations). For information on filing a Form 990 and instructions, visit the IRS at https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-990.