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How To Start A Nonprofit In Utah

To start a nonprofit corporation in Utah, begin by filing the nonprofit articles of incorporation with the Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Corporations & Commercial Code. You can submit your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation online, by fax, by mail, or in person. The state charges a $30 base filing fee for standard processing ($35 if you want a faxed confirmation of your filing). Once filed with the state, your articles of incorporation officially create your Utah nonprofit corporation, but truly preparing a nonprofit to pursue its mission involves several additional steps.


Utah Nonprofit Filing Options

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Download the Utah nonprofit articles of incorporation. Fill out the form and submit to the state.

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UT Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation Requirements

To incorporate a Utah nonprofit, you must complete and file nonprofit articles of incorporation with the Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Corporations & Commercial Code. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.

1. Name of Corporation

Your nonprofit’s name can’t suggest a purpose other than those indicated by its articles of incorporation or permitted by the laws of the state of Utah, but the name doesn’t need to include a corporate suffix (such as “incorporated,” “inc.,” “corporation,” etc.). You can do a preliminary business name search at the Utah Division of Corporations & Commercial Code’s website.

2. Purpose

Utah doesn’t require a detailed statement of purpose, and you could get away with something as simple as “the purpose of the corporation is to engage in any lawful act or activity” allowed under Utah law. However, that won’t be enough for the IRS. If your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c) federal tax-exempt status, your articles should include specific language and provisions required by the IRS for tax-exempt organizations. For more information, visit Northwest’s Guide to 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status.

3. Registered Agent

Include the relevant information about your nonprofit’s registered agent. A registered agent is an individual or business entity authorized to receive service of process (legal notices) on behalf of your nonprofit. For a non-commercial registered agent, list the agent’s name and Utah street address (a PO Box alone won’t work). For a commercial registered agent, simply list the name of the registered agent service, so long as that agent is registered with the Utah Division of Corporations & Commercial Code. When you hire Northwest, our name—“Northwest Registered Agent, LLC”—goes here.

4. Incorporator

Include the name, signature, and address of at least one incorporator. An incorporator is simply the person who signs and submits your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation, and an incorporator does not need to be part of your nonprofit. When you hire Northwest to from your nonprofit, we’ll be your incorporator.

5. Voting Members

Indicate if your nonprofit will or will not have voting members. If you’re using Utah’s form for your articles of incorporation, simply check “will” or “will not.” If you’re preparing your own articles, include a version of one statement or the other.


Identify if your nonprofit will or will not issue shares to its members (simply check “will” or “will not”). If your nonprofit will issue shares, you’ll need to provide more information, including the aggregate number of shares that will be issued and if your nonprofit will divide those shares into classes.

7. Assets

The form already contains the following statement: “Upon dissolution assets of the corporation will be distributed in a manner consistent with law.” If you use the form provided, no action is required here. If you’re preparing your own articles, however, make sure those articles contain this provision.

8. Principal Address

Include the Utah street address which will serve as your nonprofit’s primary business address. When you hire Northwest to serve as your registered agent, you have the option to include our Utah address here in place of yours.

9. Director(s)

Utah requires nonprofits to have at least three directors. List their names, positions, and addresses.

10. Ownership Information

You have the option to identify if your nonprofit is female owned and/or minority owned, but this is not required.

How Much Does It Cost to Incorporate a Utah Nonprofit?

The Utah Department of Commerce charges $30 to file nonprofit articles of incorporation, plus $5 if you want a faxed confirmation that your filing went through. You can file online, in person, by mail, or via fax. If you file by fax, online, or in person you can pay with a credit card. If you file by mail, you’ll pay with a check or money order. Utah will also speed up the application process if you pay an additional $75 expedited processing fee.

How Long Does It Take to Start a Utah Nonprofit?

Standard processing in Utah takes around 14 business days. If you pay the $75 expedite fee, however, you can get your articles processed in around two days.

Does a Utah Nonprofit Need a Registered Agent?

You bet. Utah requires nonprofit corporations to appoint a Utah registered agent to receive service of process (legal notices) on their behalf. You can hire a commercial registered agent service (like Northwest), but the state also allows you to appoint a noncommercial agent (such as yourself or a willing friend). We recommend hiring a registered agent service.

Why? Not only for selfish reasons. The trouble with serving as your nonprofit’s own registered agent is that a registered agent needs to be available at a publicly listed Utah street address during normal business hours. That’s a difficult promise to keep when you need to manage and grow a new nonprofit. You’ll also give up some of your privacy if you serve as your own registered agent. Whatever address you list as the address of your nonprofit’s registered agent, after all, shows up on your nonprofit’s article of incorporation (a public document).

When you hire Northwest, these problems disappear. You can put our address on your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation in place of yours, and you can leave the endless waiting to us. And if we ever do receive a service of process on behalf of your nonprofit, we’ll scan it and send it to you on the same day.


Part 3: Get a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Your nonprofit corporation will need to get an employer identification number (a FEIN or EIN), which you can get from the IRS as soon as the state approves your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation. Without an EIN, your nonprofit will struggle to open a bank account and won’t be able to apply for 501(c) tax-exempt status with the IRS. Luckily, the application process is fairly easy, and you can get your EIN online at the IRS website, by fax, or by mail.

If you’d rather someone else deals with the IRS, however, you can hire Northwest to get your nonprofit’s EIN for you. Just add our EIN service, for an additional $50 fee, at checkout.


Hold Your Organizational Meeting & Adopt Bylaws

Will My Utah Nonprofit Need Corporate Bylaws?

Yes, Utah expects your nonprofit to adopt corporate bylaws. Your nonprofit will need bylaws to get a bank account and apply for 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status, and you may find that other stage agencies (as well as some donors) will want access to your corporate bylaws down the road.

Why Do Nonprofit Bylaws Matter?

Your Utah nonprofit bylaws are essentially the agreement it makes with itself, and it answers key questions in advance. How long is a director’s tenure? What are the secretary’s responsibilities? Who will be the public face of your nonprofit corporation? Without clear answers to questions like these, you’ll find that your nonprofit is flying blind.

Northwest has years of experience doing business with the nonprofit sector, and we’ve used that experience to write an adaptable template for writing nonprofit bylaws. When you hire Northwest, you can use this template to help you get started, as well as our other free nonprofit forms.


Apply for Federal and/or State Tax Exemptions

Will My Utah Nonprofit Be Tax Exempt?

To apply for federal tax-exempt status, you will submit an Application for Recognition of Exemption to the IRS, pay either a $275 or $600 application fee (depending on the size and nature of your nonprofit), and wait around six months or more while the IRS examines your nonprofit’s history, finances, structure, and purpose. If or when your nonprofit qualifies for federal tax-exempt status, you’ll

The IRS recognizes more than two dozen types of tax-exempt organizations in Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, but most nonprofits apply to get recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization. To qualify as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, your nonprofit’s Certificate of Formation must include specific language required by the IRS limiting your nonprofit’s activities exclusively to the pursuit of one or more tax-exempt purposes. Learn more at Northwest’s free Guide to 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status.

What About State Tax Exemptions?

Your Utah nonprofit may be eligible for several state or local tax exemptions, including an exemption from the state’s corporate income and franchise taxes, sales tax, and property tax. If your nonprofit manages to obtain 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status with the IRS, it will automatically be exempt from the Utah state corporate and franchise tax.

However, you’ll need to submit Form TC-160 to the Utah State Tax Commission to seek a sales tax exemption, and you’ll need to apply to your local county tax assessor’s office to seek an exemption from local property taxes. If you’d like to learn more, check out Northwest’s guide to Utah state tax exemptions.


Obtain Utah State Licenses

Should My UT Nonprofit Register for State Tax Accounts?

Yes, your Utah nonprofit will need to submit Form TC-69—the Utah State Business and Tax Registration—to the Utah State Tax Commission. This application provides a single method for your nonprofit to register for whatever tax accounts are appropriate for its activities and structure.

Should My Nonprofit Register as a Utah Charity?

Most likely. Unless your Utah nonprofit is a religious organization, an educational institution, or one of a handful of types of charities exempt from registering under Utah law, you’ll need to register as a Utah charity with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. There is a $90 initial filing fee, and it costs $90 to renew each year. Learn more at Northwest’s guide to Charity Registration in Utah.


Open a Bank Account for Your Utah Nonprofit

To open a bank account for your Utah nonprofit, you will need to bring the following items with you to the bank:

  • A copy of your Utah nonprofit articles of incorporation
  • A copy of your nonprofit’s bylaws
  • Your Utah nonprofit’s EIN

It’s always wise to call the bank ahead of time and check its requirements. Some banks may require you to bring a resolution authorizing you to open a bank account in your nonprofit’s name (especially if your nonprofit has several directors and/or officers).


Submit the UT Nonprofit Annual Renewal

Utah requires your nonprofit to submit an annual renewal to the Division of Corporations each year by the end of your nonprofit’s anniversary month. The Utah annual renewal allows you to update (or simply confirm) your nonprofit’s information as it appears on the state’s records, including the names and addresses of your members and/or officers, addresses, and registered agent information. The filing for the Utah annual renewal is $10 for nonprofit corporations.

If you’d rather not keep up with this report and its deadline, you can add Northwest’s Utah Annual Renewal Compliance service when you hire Northwest. We will make sure your Utah nonprofit’s annual renewal gets filed correctly and on time.