Business Formation

A New Approach to Helping Journalism Non-Profits at the IRS

Today, the Digital Media Law Project has launched a new version of its resources for journalism organizations seeking a Section 501(c)(3) tax exemption for the IRS. As a project, we have been concerned with non-profit journalism from the beginning, providing informational resources for news ventures seeking to form as non-profits.

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What is Section 501(c)(3), and is it Right for Your Organization?

With a tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, certain non-profit organizations can, among other benefits, (1) avoid payment of federal income tax and (2) receive donations from charitable foundations and individuals that are tax-deductible by the donors.

Section 501(c)(3) states that corporations organized and operated exclusively for one or more of the following purposes can be recognized as tax-exempt:

Successful Journalism Applications for Section 501(c)(3) Status

The following is a list of journalism projects that have successfully formed independent nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) exempt status with the IRS. With each organization is a link to the actual application materials filed bythe organization, as well as some of the subsequent correspondence the organization had with the IRS. Reviewing these applications can give you a sense of the amount of work that goes into seeking a tax exemption, and how these organizations explained their educational activities to the IRS.

Forming a Journalism Cooperative in Ohio

You should familiarize yourself with Title XVII of  the Ohio Revised Code, particularly the Ohio Cooperative Law at Chapter 1729. Cooperative associations are considered non-profit organizations "because they are not organized for the purpose of making a profit for themselves as such, or for the purpose of making a profit for their members as such, but for their members as patrons." Despite this, Chapter 1729 rather than Chapter 1702 on Nonprofit Corporation Law governs.

State Law: Forming a Cooperative

Please select a state below for more information about forming a journalism-oriented cooperative corporation in that state.  

Please note that not every state recognizes the "cooperative corporation" as a specific business form, and that some states which recognize this form restrict the use of this form to industries other than journalism. The state pages listed below will inform you whether the state recognizes the form, and if so, whether a journalism organization can adopt that form.