[hackerspaces] US hackerspaces - corporation formation and 501(c)3 status

jur1st jur1st at cowtowncomputercongress.org
Thu May 28 17:55:03 CEST 2009

I recall a commercial for a national tax prep firm which made an  
excellent point about products like Turbo Tax. When you get audited,  
who are you going to ask for assistance?  The software box?

Outfits like the ones you mention come with forms...that's it. No way  
to talk through the issues which you bring up later in your  
message...no opportunity to discuss other legal issues or risk  
management with an actual attorney.

This culture is very DIY based...but legal and financial issues are  
best handled by those that have backgrounds in law, tax, accounting etc.

You may want to consult with a local or regional law school to see if  
they have clinics or professors who could help pro-bono.


On May 28, 2009, at 10:45 AM, dosman <dosman at packetsniffers.org> wrote:

> Hi, I have some questions for US-based hackerspaces:
> Has anyone used places like legalzoom.com or incorporate.com to form
> their non-profit or any other business for that matter? They seem to
> focus on LLC formation but also do non-profits with 501(c)3 status. We
> are working on forming our group and after looking at all the work
> required they seem like the easiest and cheapest way to get something
> up and running (and with fewer mistakes being made). I realize they
> make it look over-simplified, however using them as a guiding hand
> seems reasonable. Comments and suggestions are welcomed.
> Additionally, for spaces that have gone the 501(c)3 route, I assume
> they claim to be operated specificly for scientific purposes? (as
> stated in section 3 of IRS doc p557). Has anyone had troubles with
> this definition during their application process? After reading a lot
> of spaces bylaws we've seen lots of statements like "contributing to
> the international commnity" which is great- except that my
> understanding is that a non-profit needs to give back to it's local
> community. While that is certainly attainable, I am curious if anyone
> has had trouble being qualified since they don't specificly state they
> plan to benefit their local community? I'm just playing devils
> advocate here, these are the types of challenges I would expect the
> IRS to throw down to a 501(c)3 application.
> Thanks!
> -dosman
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