IRS Tax Exempt Status for 4-H Clubs/Councils
Until recently, federal income tax exempt status of 4-H groups was provided through the Group Exemption Number (GEN) 2704 held by 4-H National Headquarters. The GEN is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determination that formally recognized all chartered 4-H Clubs and affiliated 4-H organizations nationwide under the control of Cooperative Extension for inclusion as a subsidiary of the national 4-H special exemption under the provisions which correspond to section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code.
This meant that formally authorized 4-H groups were exempt from paying federal income tax on funds raised on behalf of 4-H, or to support educational programs; and donors could 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 the GEN number held through 4-H National Headquarters being eliminated, all states were directed to secure tax-exempt status for 4-H groups.
For Nebraska 4-H clubs and 4-H councils to maintain exemption from federal income tax, it has been determined that the Nebraska 4-H Foundation will request from IRS a Group Exemption Letter which will extend its tax exempt status and establish a GEN for Nebraska 4-H. Nebraska 4-H clubs and councils will be subordinate organizations that are affiliated with and under the general supervision of the Nebraska 4-H Foundation.
The information on this page has been compiled to assist UNL Extension professionals as they work to assist clubs/councils in complying with the requirements to be eligible for and maintain group exempt status.
The IRS requires certain information to be included in constitution/bylaws for groups included in a group tax exemption. The Template Constitution/Bylaws for 4-H Clubs has been revised to include this information. Because the amended constitution/bylaws is a required component of the group exemption application process and because we know that clubs may not be meeting prior to the due date, it is not necessary for the entire club to vote to approve the amendments.
- If a club currently has a constitution/bylaws and you have those on file, have the club leader and club president sign and return the Amendments to Constitution form.
- If a club currently has a constitution/bylaws and you do not have it on file, you need to collect that from the club. The club may choose to make the required amendments directly to the constitution/bylaws before submitting to you, or they may choose to turn in their current constitution/bylaws along with the Amendments to Constitution form.
- If a club does not have a constitution/bylaws, they must develop one. Have them use the Template Constitution & Bylaws for 4-H Clubs.
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.
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 859-669-5760. The on-line 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: http://epostcard.form990.org/
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Webinar Recording 10/10/13
- Staff Information on Group Exemption Process
- Template Letter to Club Leaders
- 4-H Club File Checklist
- Amendment to Constitution Form
- Template Constitution and Bylaws
- Group Exemption Authorization Form
- EIN Application Form SS-4
- EIN Sample Form SS-4
- List of Subordinate Groups
- How to Update List of Subordinate Groups
- By Dec 31 - Clubs/Councils submit Year End Treasurer's Report to Extension Office.
- By May 15 - Extension Office files Form 990-N (e-Postcard) for eligible clubs/council.
- By July 1 - Extension Office submits updated List of Subordinate Groups to State 4-H Office.