Student Organizations

A Registered Student Organizations (RSO) is defined as a group of enrolled students, faculty, staff and/or individuals from the community whose primary purpose is to support the goals and mission of the University.

To be an RSO it must meet the following requirements:

  • Be comprised of at least 4 UW–Madison students who are enrolled at least half time
  • Be composed of at least 75% UW–Madison students
  • Be controlled and directed by UW–Madison students
  • Be related to student life on campus
  • Be not-for-profit, which means no individual or group may profit from the work/activities of the student organization. Additionally, not-for-profit does not mean that the student organization is automatically exempt from state or federal taxes because a student organization is not required to be a federal or state-registered non-profit to meet our definition of not-for-profit.

Student organization tax guidance

RSOs are recognized by the university, but not official entities of the university; therefore, they cannot use the UW’s tax-exempt status or documents.

RSOs must have a UDDS and  university funding strings in order to use the UW’s tax-exempt numbers. A UW UDDS and funding string assures the payments are made or received by the UW and are going through the UW’s financial system. This assures the UW’s IRS and tax-exempt numbers are only used for UW exempt activities as the IRS approved for our exemption.

Any entity without a UDDS and university funding string cannot use UW numbers and must obtain their own Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

Applying for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN/EIN) and/or tax-exempt status

  • If a student organization/club does not already have a TIN, they can apply using IRS Form SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number.
  • If a student organization/club does not know if they have applied for or received a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from the IRS, they must contact the local IRS office.
  • If a student organization/club does not know if they are tax-exempt, they must contact the IRS local office.
  • Student organizations/clubs are not by their nature tax-exempt entities. The IRS determines the status of the student organization/club at the time of TIN application.  If the IRS determines the student organization/club is tax-exempt, the IRS will provide the student organization/club written confirmation of their exempt status.

Completing a W-9

If a student organization/club does not know their federal tax classification for Box 3 on the W-9, they must contact the IRS local office.

Members or officers of student organizations/club must not use their personal Social Security Number (SSN) when completing W-9’s or when conducting business on behalf of the student organization/club. Only the IRS assigned/registered Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) can be used for the student organization/club.

Student organization payments

If a student organization cannot provide a W-9, with an IRS assigned TIN, and they are being paid a tax reportable payment, then they can still be paid but the UW is required by the IRS to withhold 24% backup withholding. Instructions for processing payments with the 24% backup withholding can be found at Backup Withholding for Tax Reportable Payments to U.S. Tax Residents.