How To Start A Nonprofit In Mississippi
To start a nonprofit corporation in Mississippi, you must file nonprofit articles of incorporation with the Mississippi Secretary of State. You can submit your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation online or by mail, and it costs $50 to file (plus a $4 processing fee if you pay with a credit card). Once filed with the state, your articles of incorporation officially create your Mississippi nonprofit corporation, but truly preparing a nonprofit to pursue its mission involves several additional steps.
Starting a Mississippi Nonprofit Guide:
- Choose your MS nonprofit filing option
- File MS nonprofit articles of incorporation
- Get a Federal EIN from the IRS
- Adopt your nonprofit’s bylaws
- Apply for federal and/or state tax exemptions
- Register for required state licenses
- Open a bank account for your MS nonprofit
- File the MS nonprofit status report
Mississippi Nonprofit Filing Options
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Mississippi Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation must be completed in the state's online portal and then submitted or printed and mailed. The sample provided here is for comparative purposes only.
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MS Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation Requirements
To incorporate a Mississippi nonprofit, you must complete and file nonprofit articles of incorporation with the Mississippi Secretary of State. If you’re filing yourself (instead of hiring a company like Northwest to form your nonprofit), you’ll need to create an account at the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website. This is the only way to access the form for Mississippi’s articles of incorporation, so you will need to create an account even if you intend to print and mail your completed articles.
The document below is an example form only.
Your nonprofit’s name can’t suggest a purpose other than that described in your Articles of Incorporation, and it must be distinguishable from other businesses operating in Mississippi.
Mississippi requires an email address for official notifications from the state, which becomes part of the public record. When you hire Northwest, you can enter our email in place of yours.
Mississippi allows nonprofit corporations to delay their effective dates up to 90 days after filing Articles of Incorporation. You can skip this section if you want your nonprofit’s effective date to be the same as its filing date (which is exactly what most corporations do).
If you only want your nonprofit to exist for a specific period of time, you have the option to specify its years of existence. You can skip this section, as most filers do, and Mississippi will assume your nonprofit will exist indefinitely.
In the section called “The initial planned nonprofit activity,” you’ll select from a menu to describe the nature of your nonprofit’s activities. You will also select up to three (but at least one) 6-digit NAICS codes to describe your nonprofit. If you can’t find an exact description of your nonprofit, pick the code or codes that come closest.
You’ll have the option to select an individual or commercial registered agent. If you’re going with an individual, you will type in the registered agent’s name, address, and email address yourself. If you’re hiring a commercial registered agent like Northwest, you’ll select “Organization” and “Find Commercial Registered Agents,” and the system will auto-fill each field once you’ve selected your registered agent from the list provided. Hint: Northwest is a commercial registered agent—select “Northwest Registered Agent, LLC.”
Your incorporator is the person who signs and submits your printed Articles or electronically signs and submits your online filing, and Mississippi requires the name, address, and title of at least one. When you hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, we’ll be your incorporator.
How Much Does It Cost to Incorporate a Mississippi Nonprofit?
Mississippi charges a $50 fee to file nonprofit Articles of incorporation (plus a $4 convenience fee for paying with a credit card online).
How Long Does It Take to Start a Mississippi Nonprofit?
Mississippi business formation documents must be filed online. You can expect a response from the state within one business day.
Does a Mississippi Nonprofit Need a Registered Agent?
Yes, you’re required to appoint and maintain a Mississippi registered agent to receive services of process (legal notices) on behalf of your nonprofit. Mississippi allows you to take on the job yourself, but we don’t recommend it. A registered agent must list a physical Mississippi address on your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation, so if you decide to be your own agent your residential or office address will go into the public record. That means a mailbox crammed with junk mail, solicitors showing up unexpectedly at your door, and the unmanageable requirement to be available at this listed address during normal business hours.
Northwest can help. When you sign up for our Mississippi registered agent service, you can help protect your privacy by listing our Mississippi address on your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation. You will also gain the freedom to hold long meetings and travel because we’ll be the ones waiting during business hours for the state to send legal notices and other official state mail. And if your nonprofit does receives a service of process from the state, we’ll scan it and send it to you in real time.
Get a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
An employer identification number (EIN) is a must for any new nonprofit seeking to navigate its finances, apply for federal and state tax exemptions, and solicit charitable contributions. After the Mississippi Secretary of State approves your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation, you can apply for an EIN through the IRS website. Or you can sign up for our EIN service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.
Hold Your Organizational Meeting & Adopt Bylaws
Mississippi requires a nonprofit’s directors to adopt bylaws at their first official meeting, and the IRS expects bylaws to be written and ratified before a nonprofit seeks federal tax-exempt status.
Why? Because your Mississippi nonprofit bylaws shape how your nonprofit makes decisions and operates on a daily basis, answering questions like “How do we appoint directors?”, “Will we have voting members?”, “What are the responsibilities of each officer?”, or “What procedures should we go through to suspend a member?” Questions like these need answers in advance to keep your nonprofit’s members, directors, and officers traveling in the same direction. Without bylaws, in other words, your nonprofit is truly flying blind.
It isn’t easy to write effective bylaws, of course, but we can help. When you hire Northwest, you can use our adaptable template for writing nonprofit bylaws as a foundation to build from, and you’ll also have access to numerous other free forms to help guide you as your nonprofit develops and grows.
Apply for Federal and/or State Tax Exemptions
To obtain federal tax-exempt status, you must submit an Application for Recognition of Exemption to the IRS. This is a lengthy (and expensive) process that involves the IRS examining your nonprofit’s purpose, organizational documents, corporate structure, and finances among other details. Currently Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code recognizes more than two dozen different types of exempt organizations, but most nonprofits seek 501(c)(3) status for public charities and private foundations. If your nonprofit intends to become a 501(c)(3) organization, your Articles of Incorporation must include specific language required by the IRS limiting your nonprofit’s activities to the pursuit of one or more tax-exempt purposes.
Once you have obtained federal tax-exempt status, you can apply for Mississippi state tax exemptions. 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits qualify for an exemption from the state’s franchise tax, but most nonprofits, even charities, should expect to pay state sales taxes on most of their business activities.
Register For Required Mississippi State Licenses
Does a Mississippi Nonprofit Need a Business License?
Mississippi doesn’t require nonprofits to get a statewide business license, but the different cities and counties have licensing requirements of their own, including a privilege to do business license in some cities.
Should My Nonprofit Register with the Mississippi Tax Commission?
Yes. You will need a Mississippi Business ID and a federal EIN to register for Mississippi tax accounts. Register at the Mississippi Department of Revenue’s website using its “Mississippi Taxpayer Access Point (TAP)” system. There is no fee to register.
How Does My Mississippi Nonprofit Get a Business ID?
When you file nonprofit Articles of Incorporation, the Mississippi Secretary of State will automatically issue your nonprofit a Mississippi Business ID.
Should My Mississippi Nonprofit Register as a Charity?
If your Mississippi nonprofit intends to solicit charitable contributions from the public, you will probably need to file a Registration Statement with the Mississippi Secretary of State. There are some exceptions (for example, organizations that don’t receive more than $25,000 in annual contributions), but most nonprofit charities must register with the MS Secretary of State and renew their registrations each year.
The renewal deadline is always the 15th day of the 5th month after the close of the organization’s fiscal year, and the registration and renewal fees are both $50. Learn more at Northwest’s guide to Mississippi Charity Registration.
Open a Bank Account for Your MS Nonprofit
To open a bank account for your Mississippi nonprofit, you will need to bring the following items with you to the bank:
- A copy of your Mississippi nonprofit articles of incorporation
- A copy of your nonprofit’s bylaws
- Your Mississippi nonprofit’s EIN
It’s wise to call your ahead of time to check its requirements. Some banks may require you to bring a resolution authorizing you to open a bank account in your nonprofit’s name (particularly if your nonprofit has several directors and/or officers), and each bank may have other unique requirements.
Submit Your MS Nonprofit Status Report
Mississippi requires nonprofits to file a Status Report at the request of the Secretary of State. The Mississippi Status Report updates the state’s information about your nonprofit, such as your corporation’s name, the name and address of your registered agent, and the names and addresses of your nonprofit’s officers and directors. The report isn’t due on a set schedule. The Secretary of State may request the first report no fewer than five (5) years after the date your nonprofit incorporated, and not more than once every five (5) years. There is a $25 filing fee.
When your Mississippi nonprofit receives a request for a status report, you will have ninety (90) days to submit. You can also submit a status report voluntarily anytime if your nonprofit’s information happens to change. Submit online through the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website or hire Northwest to complete and submit your nonprofit’s status report for an additional fee.