When your nonprofit organization is growing in leaps and bounds, it’s time to hire new employees. While the process of locating the right people to staff your organization can be dynamic and flexible, when it comes to actually paying your employees, the rules are very clear.

Yes, Nonprofits Still Need to Pay Taxes

Unlike many areas of nonprofit operations, payroll is one area where nonprofit and for-profit organizations are subject to very similar regulations. Similar to for-profit businesses, a not-for-profit organization must register for employer accounts, withhold the necessary payroll taxes, file returns, and remit taxes.

If your first thought is, “Taxes? But my organization is a nonprofit…we don’t have to pay taxes”, you would be in good company. It’s a common misconception that nonprofit organizations are exempt from all taxes. While nonprofits are typically exempt from federal income taxes and certain other types of taxes, nonprofit organizations are not exempt from payroll taxes.

Your tax obligations can vary depending on where you and your employees are located. To get you started, here are some tips to help your organization remain compliant and fulfil your tax obligations as an employer.

How to Register Your Nonprofit with the IRS

As a nonprofit, you still need to register with the Internal Revenue Service and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). More than likely, your organization would have done this when it was formed. However, an EIN is required for filing returns and remitting federal employment taxes (Federal Withholding, Social Security Tax, and Medicare Tax), so if you do not already have an EIN you must obtain one before hiring employees.

You will also need to register for employer accounts in state(s) that you will be hiring employees. With workforces going increasingly remote, this can be more complicated than it seems. One thing to think about during the hiring process is, “Where does my new employee live?” If the new employee lives in a different state, your organization may need register in that state as well. Registering for employer accounts can be time-consuming and confusing, but it’s well worth your attention. Registering incorrectly (or not at all!) can result in fines and penalties down the road, so be sure to seek assistance, if needed, to make sure you are proceeding correctly!

Forms that Need to Be Completed

Instruct your employees complete the federal Form W-4 and any state-specific withholding documentation. These forms tell you, as their employer, how much tax to withhold from their wages when you are running payroll.


Actions to Take When Processing Payroll

Your nonprofit organization must have an established payroll schedule. The most common payroll schedules are semi-monthly (twice a month), bi-weekly (every other week), or weekly. It’s critical to run payroll on time, every time. When you process payroll, your organization is required to withhold a percentage of your employee’s paycheck. The employee’s portion is made up of the Medicare Tax (1.45%) and Social Security Tax (6.2%), as well as the federal withholding indicated on their W-4, plus any other employment taxes required by the state.

Remit the tax amounts withheld from employee, plus an additional 7.65% employer FICA (Medicare & Social Security Tax) match to the IRS. You will also need to remit any amounts withheld from employees for state taxes, as well as the associated employer taxes for that particular state.

Tips for Filing Tax Returns

Be sure to file the required payroll tax returns with the respective government agency. For the IRS, this could be the more common Quarterly 941/Annual 940 filing combo, or the less common Annual 944. State employer filing requirements vary widely. Refer to that particular state’s employer website for detailed requirements.

Trust the Professionals at Goldin Group

While this summary may help you get started with payroll compliance, it is by no means a comprehensive guide for nonprofit employment taxes. If you have questions or need assistance with the payroll process, contact us today. Our team can help you navigate your nonprofit payroll obligations and make sure your organization stays on the right track.

At Goldin Group CPAs, we can help nonprofits and small businesses with bookkeeping, taxes, and all other accounting needs. We understand that as a business owner or non-profit manager, keeping up with accounting and taxes is time-consuming and can even be overwhelming. We work with nonprofits and businesses, offering a one-stop-shop for financial services. If you are a nonprofit looking to outsource your accounting or if you need help managing any aspect of your nonprofit’s finances, we would love to hear from you! Call us at (301) 913-0008 or email ariel@goldingroup.biz to make an appointment.