Non-Profit and Religious Corporations FAQs

What are the differences between a non-profit corporation and a religious corporation?

Difference in Purposes:
  • Non-Profit Corporation, per AS 10.20.005, may be organized under this chapter for any lawful purpose, including, but not limited to, one or more of the following:
    • charitable;
    • religious;
    • benevolent;
    • eleemosynary;
    • educational;
    • civic;
    • cemetery;
    • patriotic;
    • political;
    • social;
    • fraternal;
    • literary;
    • cultural;
    • athletic;
    • scientific;
    • agricultural;
    • horticultural;
    • animal husbandry;
    • and professional, commercial, industrial, or trade association purposes.

      Trade unions and other labor organizations may also be organized under this chapter, but cooperative corporations, electric and telephone cooperatives, and organizations subject to state insurance or banking laws may not be organized under this chapter.
  • Religious Corporations, per AS 10.40.010, may be formed for acquiring, holding, or disposing of church or religious society property, for the benefit of religion, for works of charity and education, and for public worship.

Difference in who has authority to control or manage the affairs of the corporation:
  • A non-profit corporation is managed by a board.
    • Per AS 10.20.081 the affairs of a non-profit corporation shall [mandatory] be managed by a board of directors.
    • Per AS 10.20.086 the number of directors of a non-profit corporation shall be at least three.
    • Per AS 10.20.121 the officers of a non-profit corporation consist of a president, one or more vice presidents (as prescribed by the bylaws), a secretary, and a treasurer. Two or more offices may be held by the same person, except the offices of president and secretary.
      • Tip: this means that a non-profit must have and maintain a minimum of seven (7) titled official positions which require a minimum of three (3) individuals to fill all positions.
  • A religious corporation is controlled by one person.
    • Per AS 10.40.020 an archbishop, bishop, president, trustee in trust, president of stake, president of congregation, overseer, presiding elder, or clergyman, of a church or religious society, who has been chosen, elected or appointed, in conformity with the constitution, canons, rites, regulations, or discipline of the church or religious society, and in whom is vested the legal title to the property of the church or religious society, may execute written articles of incorporation in triplicate, acknowledged before an officer authorized to take acknowledgments.
    • Per AS 10.40.080 All deeds and other instruments of writing shall be made in the name of the corporation and signed by the person representing the corporation in the official capacity designated in the articles of incorporation.

Additional Differences:

How do I obtain tax exempt status?

The State of Alaska does not grant tax-exempt status.  Tax-exempt designation comes from the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service.

IMPORTANT: The IRS has specific filing time frames and language expectations for obtaining tax exempt status from the IRS. For more information you are strongly encouraged to visit the IRS websites.


  1. RESEARCH: to determine the specific IRS filing time frames and IRS language requirements for the particular tax exempt status you desire for your organization;
  2. STATE: File articles of organization (include the appropriate required IRS language) with this office to obtain an Alaska Entity Number;
  3. FEDERAL: File with the IRS requesting the desired tax exempt status and include the required documents filed for record with the State of Alaska as evidence to support your request to the IRS;
  4. OTHER AGENCIES: File with the other agencies, such as, but not limited to:

The State of Alaska Corporations Section strongly encourages you to visit the IRS websites before proceeding:

The IRS provides specialized assistance to tax-exempt organizations, call 877-829-5500 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time. Residents of Alaska follow Pacific time.)

The IRS provides web based training modules & mini courses online at

The above IRS tax-exempt information is provided by the Corporations Section as a courtesy.  You are strongly advised to research the requirements to obtain tax-exempt status from the IRS and how the contents of your filing(s) with the State of Alaska may impact your tax-exempt eligibility with the IRS.  If you require assistance, you are advised to seek the services of an attorney or other qualified professional specialized in the area of tax-exempt non-profits.

Additional State of Alaska resources for charitable organizations:

Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing:

  • Corporation Section
    To maintain a status of Good Standing with this division, and avoid involuntary dissolution, file the required documents. For more information please go to Notice: The Entity’s Responsibility.
  • Business License Section
    Alaska Statute AS 43.70.020 requires you to obtain an Alaska Business License before you engage in business activity. For more information please go to the Business Licensing Section.

Department of Law:

  • Alaska law requires charitable organizations and paid solicitors to register with the Dept. of Law. For more information please go to Charities and Paid Solicitors.

Department of Revenue:

  • Gaming permits - (i.e. bingo, raffles, lotteries, ice classics, pull-tab, etc.) are issued by the Tax Division of this department. For more information please go to Tax Division.
  • Pick Click Give - to find out more information, including how to register, please go to Permanent Fund Dividend Division.

Contact Us:

If you have questions you can reach us at either the Juneau or Anchorage phone numbers listed below or by emailing us at