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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)(3) Tax-Exempt Status

    Submit Form 1023, 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:
    Filing Fee: $850 ($400 if revenues less than $10,000/year)

    For more information on filing fees, see 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.

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