If your organization is one of the organizations described in this publication and is seeking recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS, you should follow the procedures described in this chapter and the instructions that accompany the appropriate application forms.
For information on section 501(c)(3) organizations, see chapter 3. If your organization is seeking exemption under one of the other paragraphs of section 501(c), see chapter 4.taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP1913ae26
Oral requests for recognition of exemption will not be considered by the IRS. Your application for tax-exempt status must be in writing using the appropriate forms as discussed below. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP0f517b9c
Most organizations seeking recognition of exemption from federal income tax must use specific application forms prescribed by the IRS. Two forms currently required by the IRS are Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and Form 1024, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(a). For information about how to obtain the latest revision, see chapter 6.
Forms 1023 and 1024 contain instructions and checklists to help you provide the information required to process your application. Incomplete applications will not be processed.
Some organizations do not have to use specific application forms. The application your organization must use is specified in the chapter in this publication dealing with your kind of organization. It is also shown in the Organization Reference Chart.
When no specific application form is prescribed for your organization, application for exemption is by letter to the IRS. Send the application to the appropriate address shown on Form 8718, User Fee for Exempt Organization Determination Letter Request. The letter must be signed by an authorized individual such as an officer of the organization or a person authorized by a power of attorney. (See Power of attorney under Miscellaneous Procedures, later.) Send the power of attorney with the application letter when you file it. The letter should also contain the name and telephone number of the person to contact. The information described below under Required Inclusions must be sent with the letter. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP40a92c39
An organization that is identified or designated as a terrorist organization within the meaning of section 501(p)(2) is not eligible to apply for recognition of exemption.taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP612b1091
The law requires the payment of a user fee for determination letter requests such as your application for recognition of tax-exempt status. If you are not required to use Form 1023, you should use Form 8718 to figure the amount of your fee and to pay it. If you are using Form 1023, user fee information is included in Part XI. Your payment must accompany your request. The IRS will not process a request unless the fee has been paid.
To find the correct amounts for user fees and the length of time to process a request, call 1-877-829-5500 for assistance.
Every exempt organization must have an EIN, whether or not it has any employees. An EIN is required before an exemption application is submitted. An EIN may be applied for:
- Online—Click on the Employer ID Numbers (EINs) link at www.irs.gov/businesses/small. The EIN is issued immediately once the application information is validated.
- By telephone at 1-800-829-4933 from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. in the organization's local time zone.
- By mailing or faxing Form SS-4.
Use only one method for each entity so you do not receive more than one EIN for an entity.
If you previously applied for an EIN and have not yet received it, or you are unsure whether you have an EIN, please call our toll-free customer account services number, 1-877-829-5500, for assistance.taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP6da11e02
Each application for exemption must be accompanied by a conformed copy of your organization's Articles of Incorporation (and the Certificate of Incorporation, if available), Articles of Association, Trust Indenture, Constitution, or other enabling document. If the organization does not have an organizing document, it will not qualify for exempt status. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP33ff54c1
Bylaws alone are not organizing documents. However, if your organization has adopted bylaws, include a current copy. The bylaws need not be signed if submitted as an attachment.
If your organization's name has been officially changed by an amendment to your organizing instruments, you should also attach a conformed copy of that amendment to your application.
Bylaws may be considered an organizing document only if they are properly structured (includes name, purpose, signatures, and intent to form an organization).
A conformed copy is a copy that agrees with the original and all amendments to it. If the original document required a signature, the copy should either be signed by a principal officer or, if not signed, be accompanied by a written declaration signed by an authorized officer of the organization. With either option, the officer must certify that the document is a complete and accurate copy of the original. A certificate of incorporation should be approved and dated by an appropriate state official. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP63ae2e2a
When submitting attachments, every attachment should show your organization's name and EIN. It should also state that it is an attachment to your application form and identify the part and line item number to which it applies. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP63c2e933
Do not submit original documents because they become part of the IRS file and cannot be returned. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP69dbb018
Your application must include a full description of the proposed activities of your organization, including each of the fundraising activities of a section 501(c)(3) organization and a narrative description of anticipated receipts and contemplated expenditures. When describing the activities in which your organization expects to engage, you must include the standards, criteria, procedures, or other means that your organization adopted or planned for carrying out those activities.
To determine the information you need to provide, you should study the part of this publication that applies to your organization. The appropriate chapter will describe the purposes and activities that your organization must pursue, engage in, and include in your application in order to achieve exempt status.
Often your organization's articles of organization (or other organizing instruments) contain descriptions of your organization's purposes and activities.
Your application should describe completely and in detail your past, present, and planned activities.taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP02a1d7e9
You must include in your application financial statements showing your receipts and expenditures and a balance sheet for the current year and the 3 preceding years (or for the number of years your organization was in existence, if less than 4 years). For each accounting period, you must describe the sources of your receipts and the nature of your expenditures.
If you have not yet begun operations, or have operated for less than 1 year, a proposed budget for 2 full accounting periods and a current statement of assets and liabilities will be acceptable. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP3bc4ee61
The IRS may require you to provide additional information necessary to clarify the nature of your organization. Some examples are:
- Representative copies of advertising placed,
- Copies of publications, such as magazines,
- Distributed written material used for expressing views on proposed legislation, and
- Copies of leases, contracts, or agreements into which your organization has entered.
For prompt action on your application, be sure to attach all schedules, statements, and other documents required by the application form. If you do not attach them, you may have to resubmit your application or you may otherwise encounter a delay in obtaining recognition of exemption.taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP2846cbf9
If the application does not contain the required information, it may be returned with a letter of explanation without being considered on its merits. If the completed application is resubmitted within the time period indicated in the letter from the IRS, it will be considered received on the original submission date. In that case, if the original submission was timely, the application will be considered timely filed as discussed in chapter 3, under Application for Recognition of Exemption. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP12ecfaaa
Occasionally, an organization may appear to qualify for exemption under a paragraph of section 501(c) that is different from the one for which the organization applied. If the application was made on Form 1024, which applies to more than one paragraph of section 501(c), the organization may be recognized as exempt under any paragraph to which the form applies if the organization has agreed to have its application considered under that paragraph. It must also supply any additional information required for the application under the new paragraph. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP18799419
If a different application form is required for your organization, the IRS will so advise your organization and will provide the appropriate application form for your convenience in reapplying under that paragraph, if you wish to do so. Although supporting information previously furnished need not be duplicated, you must provide any necessary additional information required for the application. If your reply is not received within a limited time, your application will be processed only for the paragraph under which you originally applied.
When a specific application form is needed for the paragraph under which your organization qualifies, that form is required before a letter recognizing exemption can be issued. This includes cases in which an exemption letter is modified to recognize an organization's exempt status under a paragraph other than the paragraph under which it originally established exemption.taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP611ea243
Organizations that submit a complete application will receive an acknowledgment from the IRS. Others will receive a letter requesting more information or returning an incomplete application. Applicants also will be notified if the application is forwarded to the Headquarters of the IRS for consideration. These letters will be sent out as soon as possible after receipt of the organization's application.taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP73dcea05
An application may be withdrawn at any time before the issuance of a ruling or determination letter upon the written request of a principal officer or authorized representative of your organization. However, the withdrawal will not prevent the information contained in the application from being used by the IRS in any subsequent examination of your organization's returns. The information forwarded with an application will not be returned to your organization and, generally, when an application is withdrawn, the user fee paid will not be refunded. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP2ca3dcb2
The law requires many exempt organizations and private foundations to make their application forms and annual information returns available for public inspection. The law also requires the IRS to make available for public inspection, in accordance with section 6104 and the related regulations, your approved application for recognition of exemption (including any papers submitted in support of the application) and the ruling or determination letter (discussed later, under Rulings and Determination Letters).
Any information submitted in the application or in support of it that relates to any trade secret, patent, process, style of work, or apparatus, upon request, may be withheld from public inspection if the Commissioner determines that the disclosure of such information would adversely affect the organization. Your request must:
- Identify the material to be withheld (the document, page, paragraph, and line) by clearly marking it, "Not Subject To Public Inspection."
- Include the reasons for your organization's position that the information is of the type that may be withheld from public inspection.
- Be filed with the office where your organization files the documents in which the material to be withheld is contained.
Your application for recognition of tax-exempt status must be filed with the IRS at the address shown on Form 8718 or Form 1023.
Your application will be considered by the Manager, EO Determinations, who will either issue a favorable determination letter to your organization, issue an adverse determination letter denying the exempt status claimed in the application, or refer the case to the Exempt Organizations Technical Office (EO Technical) in the Headquarters of the IRS for a ruling.
Requests other than applications. Requests other than applications for recognition of exemption (for example, requests for rulings involving feeder organizations, application of excise taxes to activities of private foundations, taxation of unrelated business income, etc.) should be sent to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attention: EO Letter Rulings
P.O. Box 27720, McPherson Station
Washington, DC 20038
These requests, like applications for recognition of exemption, must be accompanied by the appropriate user fee.
EO Determinations will refer to EO Technical any exempt organization issue concerning qualification for exemption or foundation status for which there is no published precedent or for which there is reason to believe that nonuniformity exists. EO Determinations may request technical advice on any technical or procedural question that cannot be resolved on the basis of law, regulations, or a clearly applicable revenue ruling or other published precedent. An organization may request that an issue be referred to EO Technical for technical advice if it feels that a lack of uniformity exists as to the disposition of the issue or if an issue is so unusual or complex as to warrant consideration by EO Technical. If a determination letter is issued based on technical advice from EO Technical regarding qualification for exemption or foundation status, no further administrative appeal is available on the issue that was the subject of technical advice. taxmap/pubs/p557-001.htm#TXMP29d389ad
If your organization expects to be represented by an agent or attorney, whether in person or by correspondence, you must file a power of attorney with your exemption application specifically authorizing the agent or attorney to represent your organization. Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, may be used for this purpose.
The law requires payment of a user fee for determination letter requests. Use Form 8718 or Form 1023 to figure the amount and pay the fee. Payment must accompany each request.