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State-By-State Initial Compliance - Wisconsin

Initial Filings for Wisconsin Nonprofit Organizations

For a general discussion on starting a nonprofit organization, please refer to our article, Starting a Nonprofit Organization.

To view annual filing requirements for Wisconsin nonprofit organizations, refer to our annual filings

  1. To Incorporate in Wisconsin

    Submit Articles of Incorporation to:

    Department of Financial Institutions
    PO Box 7846
    Madison, WI 53707-7846
    Information: (608) 261-7577
    Fax: (608) 267-6813
    Web Site:
    Filing Fee: $35
  2. To Obtain 501(c) Tax-Exempt Status

    a. Submit Form 1023 (501(c)(3) organizations) or 1024 (other 501(c) organizations), Application for Recognition of Exemption to:

    Note new address:
    Internal Revenue Service
    P.O. Box 12192
    Covington, KY 41012-0192
    Information: (800) 829-1040
    Forms: (800) 829-3676
    Web Site:
    Form 1023 Filing Fee: $850 ($275 for IRS Form 1023-EZ)
    Form 1024 Filing Fee: $850 ($400 if annual receipts will average not more than $10,000 in the first 4 years)
    Note: Certain 501(c)(3) organizations, including those with gross revenues at or below $50,000 annually, may qualify to file the online Form 1023-EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption. For more information and to determine if you are eligible for this form, refer to our Form 1023-EZ FAQ.

    b. 501(c)(4) organizations formed after July 8, 2016 must file Form 8976, Notice of Intent to Operate Under Section 501(c)(4), electronically within 60 days of formation:

    Web Site:
    Filing Fee: $50 (This fee must be paid through the website)
    Notes: This filing must be completed by all 501(c)(4) organizations - including "self-declaring" organizations that do not file IRS Form 1024.
    For more information about this filing, refer to the IRS website.
  3. To Obtain Wisconsin Franchise & Income Tax Exemptions

    Federally exempt 501(c)(3) organizations are automatically exempt from Wisconsin corporate franchise and income taxes and need not apply for exemption.

    Wisconsin Department of Revenue
    2135 Rimrock Road
    Madison, WI 53713
    Information: (608) 266-2776
    Fax: (608) 267-0834
    Web Site:
  4. To Obtain Wisconsin Sales Tax Exemption

    Generally, federally exempt 501(c)(3) organizations will qualify for sales tax exemption in Wisconsin. To obtain a Certificate of Exempt Status (CES) number, the organization must submit Form S-103 (CES) along with a copy of the IRS determination letter, Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, and a statement of income and expenses for the organization's most recent accounting period to:

    Wisconsin Department of Revenue
    PO Box 8902
    Madison, WI 53708-8902
    Information: (608) 266-2776
    Fax: (608) 267-1030
    Web Site:
  5. To Solicit or Receive Contributions

    In order to solicit contributions or have contributions solicited on its behalf in excess of $5,000 in Wisconsin, a 501(c)(3) organization must register with the Department of Financial Institutions by submitting the Charitable Organization Registration Statement along with Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter, and a statement explaining how the organization will use the contributions received to:

    Department of Financial Institutions
    PO Box 7876
    Madison, WI 53707-7876
    Phone: (608) 267-1711
    Fax: (608) 267-6889
    Web Site:
    Filing Fee: $15
    Notes: If contributions* received > $5,000: Submit Form #308 with filing.

    If contributions received are between $200,000-399,999: Submit review audit, Form #1952, and Form #308 with filing.

    If contributions received > $400,000: Submit audited financial statement, Form #1952, and Form #308 with filing.

    If contributions received < $5,000: Submit Form #1943 with filing.

    If contributions received < $50,000 and the organization only solicited in one community: Submit Form #1943 with filing.

    If the organization uses a professional fund-raiser or fund-raising counsel to solicit in Wisconsin, the name and address of said fund-raiser must be provided with filing.

    * "Contributions" refers to those either solicited or unsolicited. Also, IRS Form 990 may be filed in lieu of Form #308 (Charitable Organization Annual Financial Report), but must be accompanied with Form #1952.

Wisconsin Employment Filings

If the organization will have employees, the following filings are also required:

  1. To Register with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue

    Apply for a Wisconsin withholding tax number by completing the Application for Business Tax Registration.

    Wisconsin Department of Revenue
    PO Box 8902
    Madison, WI 53708-8902
    Information: (608) 266-2776
    Web Site:
    Filing Fee: $20
    Notes: For more information, refer to the General Wihholding Tax Questions.

    The Application for Business Tax Registration (Form BTR-101) may also be filled out manually and submitted to the address above.
  2. To Register with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

    Apply for an unemployment insurance account number online.

    Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
    Information: (608) 261-6700
    Web Site:
    Note: For more information, refer to the Department of Workforce Development's Employer Unemployment Resources.

Important note about unemployment insurance: Many states allow nonprofit organizations to fund unemployment insurance benefits on a reimbursable basis. This method of funding unemployment insurance may require additional filings not listed here. Furthermore, electing this method may require the organization to register and file in paper format. Organizations contemplating this method of funding their unemployment insurance obligations should check with the appropriate state office administering the unemployment insurance in that state.

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