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Do Georgia Not-For-Profit Organizations Pay Sales Tax on Purchases?

author photo of Lauren Stinson

If you are a not-for-profit business/organization in Georgia, are all of your purchases exempt from sales tax? Most people think the answer is yes. Actually the opposite is true.

In Georgia, sales tax exemptions are not granted to churches, religious, charitable, civic and other non-profit organizations. These organizations are required to pay the tax on all purchases of tangible personal property. Furthermore, when such organizations engage in selling tangible personal property at retail, they are required to comply with provisions of the Act relating to collection and remittance of the tax. (GA Regulation 560-12-2-.22)

There are, however, certain instances where sales to a 501(c)(3) organization are exempt. For example, sales to any chapter of the Georgia State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The exemption application process for a qualifying organization is via a letter to the Commissioner.

Also exempt from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018, are sales of tangible property and services to a nonprofit volunteer health clinic primarily treating patients with incomes below 200% of the poverty level and which property and services are used exclusively in performing a general treatment function when such clinic is a tax exempt entity under the Internal Revenue Code and obtains an exemption determination letter from the Commissioner. Application is through Form ST-NVHC.

In some instances, sales by a qualified nonprofit organization are not subject to tax. But purchases made for use by a qualified nonprofit organization are subject to sales and use tax. Examples of this are nonprofit parent teacher organizations. Sales of food or food ingredients to and by any Girl or Boy Scout Council in connection with fundraising activities are exempt. But purchases made for use by a Girl Scout or Boy Scout Council are subject to sales and use tax.

Similar questions can be posed that can be addressed here such as “As a 501(c)(3) organization, can we purchase items for the church without paying the sales tax. If so, which form do we use?”

Churches generally have to pay sales tax on the items purchased and also must collect sales tax on any items that they may sell. That includes books, used clothing or other types of resale outlet items. However, if a church is a tax exempt religious organization organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, it may purchase pipe organs or steeple bells exempt from tax.

Some exemptions exist for sales made by churches under GA Code Sec 48-8-3(15)(B). Those exemptions are 1) the sale results from a specific charitable fund-raising activity not exceeding 30 days in any calendar year; 2) no part of the gross sales or net profits from the sales inures to the benefit of any private person; and 3) if the gross sales or net profit from the sales are used for the purely charitable purposes of relief to the aged, church-related youth activities, religious instruction or worship or construction or repair of church buildings or facilities.

Depending on your activities, your church may need to be registered to collect sales tax in GA. (GA Sales and Use Tax Exemptions, GA DOR, June 16, 2015)

So don’t assume if you are a not-for-profit organization in Georgia that all your purchases are exempt from sales tax. As with most laws regarding sales and use tax, the guidelines can be confusing.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to share any confusion you’ve encountered with the Georgia DOR concerning sales tax exemptions for your not-for profit organization.

About the Author: Lauren Stinson,CMI, is Principal and National Leader - Sales & Use Tax at Cherry Bekaert LLP; a national CPA and consulting firm ranked as one of the top 25 in the country. Previously, Lauren was Owner and President of Windward Tax, a sales and use tax consulting firm. She has more than 25 years experience working with manufacturers on sales and use tax issues. Lauren is pleased to share her expertise with SalesTaxSupport readers as the Manufacturing contributor in SalesTaxSupport’s Industry blog, as well as the Georgia Sales Tax contributor in the States blog.

Comments or questions may be submitted by using the on-page "Comment" feature, subject to disclaimer at bottom of page. More specific questions or requests may be sent to Lauren directly using the orange "REQUEST" link on Lauren's Firm Profile page.

Other recent “Georgia (GA)” posts by Lauren Stinson, CMI:

NOTE: All blog content, comments, and participation subject to disclaimer at bottom of page.


6 Responses to Do Georgia Not-For-Profit Organizations Pay Sales Tax on Purchases?

  • Posted by B. on February 27, 2018 1:49pm:

    I belong to a GA Chapter of a National (501C3) organization. Our National Organization holds a retreat for our qualifying survivors in Georgia annually. Is there any way to receive permission under our GA Chapter Sales tax number to receive exemption for hotel, wholesale food services, etc. None of these items would be for resale, but to provide for our surviving families that attend this free event that our organization provides? If so, please tell me how to apply for this exemption.

    Thank you for your assistance.

    Brenda Parker

    • Posted by Author photo of Lauren Stinsonlaurenstinson on March 2, 2018 11:01am:

      Pursuant to Georgia Regulation Sec. 560-12-2-.22, Churches, religious, charitable, civic, and other nonprofit organizations are generally not exempt from sales and use taxes on their purchases. When any such organizations engage in selling tangible personal property at retail, compliance with the law as to collection and remittance of sales tax is required. The state does allow certain exemptions depending on the type of organization, but it is best to confirm with the state if your organization would qualify for any exemptions. We recommend contacting the Georgia Department of Revenue at 877-423-6711.

  • Posted by Nikki on September 7, 2017 2:07pm:

    If a Georgia PTA or PTO host a holiday shop where we would provide the product to them for the PTA/PTO to sell, are they exempt from sales tax? If not what form would they need to fill out to become exempt

    • Posted by Author photo of Lauren Stinsonlaurenstinson on October 26, 2017 6:07am:

      If the parent-teacher organization (PTO) is exempt from federal taxation under IRC Sec. 501(c)(3), the PTO should have the proper documentation and know they do not have to collect sales tax on “sales”.

      If you are a retailer selling items to a tax exempt PTO, then the PTO will need to provide you with a completed Form ST-5 Tax Exemption. See the instructions under No. 1 for “Resale” and for tax exempt PTO’s a Georgia sales tax account number is not required on the form.

  • Posted by Brian on August 30, 2016 6:56am:

    A quick check shows that there are 17 states that tax sales to non-profits, however, almost all grant exceptions for certain organizations or purchases for particular purposes. Additionally, some states that exempt sales to non-profits tax sales by non-profits.

    • Posted by Author photo of Lauren Stinsonlaurenstinson on August 30, 2016 9:44am:

      Thanks for the information, Brian. It's important and challenging to keep up with all the exemptions and regulations regarding sales tax.

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