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Can I start a non-profit / or 501(c)(3) mental health organization and employ only myself ?

Long Beach, CA |

What can I take out as my salary paid by the non-profit. I would be the single executive running it. I am interested in a student loan payback through loan forgiveness, while doing something good at the same time and start my own non-profit simultaneously.

Thank you very much for a response.

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Attorney answers 3


Starting a 501(c)(3) is no easy feat. There is a lengthy IRS application along with a user fee which is a tad under a $1000. You will also have to meet the public charity test. Another requirements is that you will also have to elect Board of Directors for the charity. Under California law, a nonprofit board may be composed of as few as one director, but the IRS is unlikely to grant 501(c)(3) status to a nonprofit with only one director. IRS almost always requires at least 3 directors. Additionally, a non-profit corporation must have a President, Treasurer and Secretary. California does not allow the same person to hold all three of these positions.

In terms of salary, IRS prefers that the board members volunteer, however reasonable compensation is allowed.

It much more complicated that the question you present. I would not start a 501 (c)(3) for loan forgiveness.

Your particular situation may be different. This answer is intended for information purposes only. No Attorney-Client relationship has been established.



Thank you very much for helpful input.


My colleague, Mr. Patel's advice is very valuable. I must add that your salary would be under scrutiny. I have handled several 1023 Application (Federal form for 501(3)(c)). I strongly doubt if your objective would meet the requirements of their "statement of mission" in the application easily. Good luck.


You can take out as salary paid by the non-profit whatever is "reasonable" under the circumstances. As Messrs. Fallahi and Patel have wisely advised, that is going to be closely scrutinized by the IRS at the time that you submit your IRS Form 1023. For your information, we charge $7,500 for the process of (i) counselling the founders, which includes the selection of the type of entity and the budget; (ii) establishing the entity (either as a trust or as a corporation); (iii) completing the IRS Form 1023; (iv) negotiating with the IRS; and (v) submitting the entity to the California Franchise Tax Board if and when it receives its favorable approval letter from the National Office of the IRS. As suggested by the other two fine lawyers, you need a lot more detailed plans and people involved before you have a chance of getting a favorable determination letter.

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