We want to undertake a project in Turkey. We wnat to open a Friends of ....organization in the USA. How is this done? We are familiar with other nternational organizations that have Friend of... organizations in the US that are 501(c) 3
First, your organization would need to form a U.S.-based entity. In your case, this entity would most likely be a New York state corporation which is formed pursuant to the N.Y. not-for-profit law. The N.Y. corporation would then apply to the IRS for a Federal tax exemption. This somewhat long and complicated application is made on an IRS Form 1023.
During this process, your organization will need to consider the method by which it intends to transmit funds through to your intended Turkish charitable recipients. It is very important that your organization be aware of, and comply with, the IRS' "earmarking" and "conduit" rules. Basically, the U.S. "friend of" organization must maintain full control over any donated funds. If the U.S. "friend of" organization does not maintain the necessary level of control and discretion over the donations, then serious tax problems will arise. For example, the IRS may rule that donations to your organization are no longer tax deductible by the donors.
There are several right ways to go about setting about your new charity and a great number of potential tax hazards to be avoided. Please feel free to address any follow-up questions to me directly.
Lindsay Rubel, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation)
Principal, Lebur Tax Consulting