Question: Getting Started

I want to make sure I have our steps straight to become a legal entity. 1) Obtain FEIN. 2) File as non-profit status & get tax exempt. 3) Open bank account. I'm trying to get us started as we have never had any form of parent group at our school. The above steps is what I have found on the message boards here, however, some of the others involved think that I am making this much more complicated than it has to be. Although I don't see the above steps complicated at all. But I want to make sure that this is the correct way to get things started from a legal & financial point of view.

Asked by jfkmccs



Advice from PTO Today

Rose H writes:
HI jfkmccs!
Here are the two things to do first:

1. Get an employer identification number. Fill out IRS form SS-4 to get your PTO’s own employer identification number (EIN). You can download the form from the IRS website or apply online. This is a simple, quick step, and it’s free. But you’ll need an EIN to open a bank account. By the way, the EIN (which some people refer to as a “tax identification number”) is simply the way the IRS identifies businesses. It doesn’t mean you have to be an employer.

2. Open a checking account at a local institution using the PTO’s EIN. Shop around for the best rates.

These two things will get you up and running. Seeking 501(c)(3) status takes more time and is something you can work on as your group moves forward.

You are not making things complicated -- at all! You are trying to do things in the right way and that's to be commended.

Take a look at this article -- How To Start a PTO. It covers all the other steps you should be taking, including creating bylaws.

Here's the link:

Here's an article about writing bylaws:

And, here's our article on 501(c)(3) status:

Good luck! And stay in touch with questions as you move forward!


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