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(Katie told me there was a good question on here, so this is one of those rare occasions where the "other half" of "JKlatsky" is posting.)

You are really looking at two questions rolled into one - a state law issue and a federal law issue.

The state level is where you actually get your corporate structure (such as a corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.) - a business entity.

In order to get that structure you go through state websites and bodies. A quick google search found this helpful guide from the Virginia Department of Business Assistance: Virginia Department of Business Assistance.

The other Virginia site for this issue seems to be the State Corporation Commission: Virginia SCC - Office of the Clerk.

The state is what gives you the "Inc." or other suffix you may be after.

Now, once you have decided on an entity at the state level, you also need to have an idea of its tax treatment, meaning we are looking to the federal level. Some of these entities can be taxed multiple ways (for example, an LLC can be have four types of tax treatment for a for-profit company).

Just because you form a state non-profit entity, you have the federal side of things to look at if you want federal tax advantages - that means you are looking at "Charitable Organizations."

Section 501(c)(3) is what most people think of when they consider a charitable organization, but if you are going for that you must be clear on the rules and requirements, as well as successfully complete a form 1023.

Your research may yield the results that a 501(c)(7) may be more appropriate for a schutzhund club - that means you won't have your dues tax deductible, but you may see some other benefits. A 501(c)(7) files a form 1024.

Here are two helpful links from the IRS:
Application for Recognition of Exemption
Life Cycle of an Exempt Organization

Finally, you look back to the state for applying for all of your other exemptions and registrations (looking to numbers 4, 5, and 6 at Virginia Department of Business Assistance as an example).

I wish you and your club the best of luck.

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