Many people use the words “nonprofit,” “not for profit,” and “tax exempt” interchangeably. In Missouri, the legal usage is more exact.
A Missouri benevolent corporation is a corporation formed under Chapter 352 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes. Benevolent Corporations are also referred to as “Pro Forma” corporations.
Missouri has another kind of not-for-profit corporation, addressed in Chapter 355. Chapter 355 is called the “Nonprofit Corporation Law.” So we have two kinds of not-for-profit corporations: Benevolent Corporations and Nonprofit Corporations.
Benevolent Corporations do not operate under Chapter 355. For example, Benevolent Corporations must have their charter approved by a local court, and then file that charter with the Secretary of State. Nonprofit (Chapter 355) groups do not have to obtain court approval to change their charter, but must have a registered agent and file annual reports with Missouri’s Secretary of State.
Both Chapter 352 and Chapter 355 corporations can be recognized as tax exempt by the IRS.
There are benefits and drawbacks to both Chapter 352 and 355. It takes a careful analysis to determine the best fit for a particular group.