Question: Does the current PTA have to dissolve to start a PTO?

I am in the process of starting a PTO at a school where there is a current PTA. The PTA has been inactive for years, and although it is trying to start up again, it has no plans to re-apply for the 501c3 it lost 2 years ago. (In fact, they didn't know they had lost it until I started researching). I have donors who would like to give, but not without the 501c3 (which I plan to apply for with the PTO). Is it okay for a school to have both a PTA and PTO (since both are actually their own entities)?

Asked by Anonymous



Community Advice

mum24kids writes:
It's ok, but confusing. Unless they have two very separate and distinct purposes, I don't see the benefit of having them both active. Since neither has 501c3 status now, it's probably better now that a new school year is starting to make the decision to go with one or the other and get things straightened out for whichever one your group decides on.

Community Advice

Mrs Bridges writes:
We decided to go ahead and Incorporate the PTO and we have our 501c3 but the PTA (who is still inactive) will not disband?! We would like to do a fundraiser requiring a state tax exemption, but the state will only grant 1 exemption per school (PTA or PTO). The principal is hesitant to cut the PTA loose because she thinks our accreditation is based on having a PTA. Our district does recognize the PTA, but there are some schools that have a PTO or PTSO instead. Is there some kind of paperwork we need to do to switch. PTA has no desire to help us and gets suspcious when we ask questions.

Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Mrs. Bridges -- There's something very important you should know before you go ahead. If you incorporate, you will have to refile with the IRS for your 501c3. The IRS considers an organization to be a new organization as of its incorporation date. That means once you incorporate, your existing 501c3 is no longer valid.

Regarding the PTA, you might check with the state PTA organization about formally disbanding. Depending on the state, they might be somewhat difficult to deal with, but there are usually specific steps you can take. On the other hand, it's not unusual for PTAs to just go dormant without formally dissolving if there's no interest.

For your principal, you should make the case that your school only needs one parent-teacher organization. The PTO is active and the PTA is not. It should be a clear decision. Regarding the state, I haven't heard of that one-exemption-per-school rule before. I would definitely recommend double-checking to make absolutely sure that's true. Good luck!

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