IRS Tax Exempt Status for 4-H Clubs/Councils

Group Exemption

The GEN is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determination that formally recognizes all chartered 4-H Clubs and affiliated 4-H organizations in Nebraska under the control of the Nebraska 4-H Foundation for inclusion as a subsidiary under the provisions which correspond to section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code.

This means that authorized 4-H groups (listed as subordinates) are exempt from paying federal income tax on funds raised on behalf of 4-H, or to support educational programs; and donors can deduct contributions to 4-H clubs and affiliated 4-H organizations such as bequests, legacies, devises, transfers, or gifts as applicable under the IRS Code.

As a result of this designation, clubs/councils can accept donations/gifts and apply for grants. In order to do this there are certain instructions you must follow.


The IRS requires certain information to be included in constitution/bylaws for groups included in a group tax exemption. All clubs and councils currently on the Nebraska 4-H Subordinate spreadsheet are assumed to have the amendment to their Constitution completed in order to be on the list. All new clubs that want to be added to the subordinate list must use the new template that includes the appropriate financial information required by the IRS. 

Applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

EIN stands for "Employer Identification Number." It is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN), a nine-digit number the IRS assigns to business entities. 4-H clubs/councils need an EIN to open a bank account. Personal social security numbers of volunteers should never be used to open 4-H bank accounts, instead an EIN number will be used. New clubs who plan to have money in the name of 4-H must get an EIN number and be added to our subordinate spreadsheet.

Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, is available on the IRS website. See Sample Form SS-4 for instructions on how to complete the form. Clubs/councils should complete the SS-4 form, then print and fax it to 859-669-5987. The online application process is not an option for 4-H clubs as it does not allow for some of the answers 4-H clubs need to provide.

Annual IRS Filing Requirements

Tax-exempt organizations are required to file annual information forms with the IRS. Forms include the Form 990, 990-EZ, or the 990-N (e-Postcard). Filing the form is necessary to maintain an organization's tax-exempt status.

Most small tax-exempt organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less are required to electronically submit Form 990-N, also known as the e-Postcard, unless they choose to file a complete Forms 990 or 990-EZ instead.

Any 4-H organization with gross receipts over $50,000 during the tax year must file Form 990 or 990-EZ. Clubs/councils should consult a tax professional for help in filing these forms which are available on the IRS website.

Filings are due each year by May 15. The e-Postcard will be filed by the county extension office. Though this seems to contradict the financial policies and practices related to extension offices and club/council finances, this practice has previously been approved by UNL administration.

Use this link to file the e-Postcard:

Annual Expectations for Counties

Collect Treasurer's Reports for the prior calendar year. Due to the County Office to keep on record in the club file. This record on file is required by the IRS for clubs that have an EIN and file under our subordinate list. Clubs/Councils who do not turn in a report will be collected and receive a letter from the State Program Leader who one last chance to adhere to the requirement or their club will have their right to have money in the name of 4-H taken away.

May 15
ePostcards Deadline to be filed on IRS website. All clubs/councils on our subordinate list from the prior year must be filed with the IRS regardless of current status.

Subordinate Spreadsheet Update - This is our annual update to the IRS. Clubs/Councils that need leader/address information changed, new clubs that need added or clubs that will no longer have money or plan to disband and need to be deleted will be updated on the spreadsheet once a year. This is our official IRS document and list. No other communication to change, add or delete with the IRS is to be done throughout the yera. This is how we communicate with them.