Tax Information for Clubs
Actual resolution of legal issues depends upon many factors, including variations of facts and state laws. This website is not intended to provide legal or advice on specific subjects, but rather to provide insight into general legal and tax principles and issues. The reader should always consult with legal or tax counsel before taking action on the matters herein.
Federal Tax Filing Requirement for Rotary Clubs
Rotary clubs in the United States qualify as “tax-exempt” entities for federal tax purposes under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(4). This means that clubs do not have to pay income taxes on dues and fundraising revenue if the club is annually filing the required information return with the Internal Revenue Service.
If a Rotary club fails to file annual information returns with the IRS for three (3) consecutive years, the club may lose its tax-exempt status and may have to pay taxes on its revenue! The IRS has released a list of entities that have lost their tax-exempt status because they have failed to file. To see the list, click here: Automatic Revocation of Exemption List. For forms and information to reinstate a Rotary club after revocation of exempt status, see the documents section below.
An information return (sometimes as simple as a postcard) must be filed by November 15th each year.
Rotary International Assistance for Rotary Clubs
Rotary clubs do not have to file separate applications to be recognized as tax-exempt but may be included in the “group exemption” filed by Rotary International.
California State Tax Filing Requirements for Rotary Clubs
In addition to the annual IRS filing requirement, all Rotary clubs in our District should file an annual report with the Franchise Tax Board. Rotary clubs that fail to file in California will lose tax-exempt status in this state. If tax-exempt status is lost in California, the club may have to pay taxes to the state.
It also means that the Rotary club will not be able to conduct any raffles or other gaming fundraisers in California until the club’s tax-exempt status is restored.
Annual reports to the state are due November 15th of each year, the same date as reports to the IRS.
No Tax Exemption, No Raffle
Only tax-exempt entities may lawfully conduct raffle and gaming activities in California. Every Rotary club must first be recognized as tax-exempt by the Franchise Tax Board before conducting a raffle. In addition, raffle and gaming activities must be registered with the California Attorney General.
Sales Tax Rules for Rotary Clubs
For some Rotary club fundraisers, your club may have to pay sales tax on items sold. Sales tax must be paid for meals your club serves itself (instead of hiring a caterer or hotel) and on other “tangible” property you sell at a live or silent auction.