The Marion County Historical Society is a nonprofit organization (abbreviated as NPO, also known as a not-for-profit organization) and is an organization that does not distribute its surplus funds to owners or shareholders, but instead uses them to help pursue its goals.
Other examples of NPOs include charities (i.e., charitable organizations), trade unions, trade associations and public arts organizations. As such in most countries, NPOs are exempt from income and property taxation.
After a recognized type of legal entity has been formed at the state level, it is customary for the nonprofit organization to seek tax exempt status with respect to its income tax obligations. That is typically done by applying to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), although statutory exemptions exist for limited types of nonprofit organizations. The IRS, after reviewing the application to ensure the organization meets the conditions to be recognized as a tax exempt organization (such as the purpose, limitations on spending, and internal safeguards for a charity), may issue an authorization letter to the nonprofit granting it tax exempt status for income tax payment, filing, and deductibility purposes. The exemption does not apply to other Federal taxes such as employment taxes. Additionally, a tax-exempt organization must pay federal tax on income that is unrelated to their exempt purpose. Failure to maintain operations in conformity to the laws may result in an organization losing its tax exempt status.
Individual states and localities offer nonprofits exemptions from other taxes such as sales tax or property tax. Federal tax-exempt status does not guarantee exemption from state and local taxes, and vice versa. These exemptions generally have separate application processes and their requirements may differ from the IRS requirements.