This discussion describes certain information to be provided upon application for recognition of exemption by all organizations created for any of the purposes described earlier in this chapter. For example, the application must include a conformed copy of the organization's articles of incorporation, as discussed under Articles of Organization later in this chapter. See the organization headings that follow for specific information your organization may need to provide.taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP43f32a90
Your organization must file its application for recognition of exemption on Form 1023. See chapter 1 and the instructions accompanying Form 1023 for the procedures to follow in applying. Some organizations are not required to file Form 1023. These are discussed later in this section.
Form 1023 and accompanying statements must show that all of the following are true.
- The organization is organized exclusively for, and will be operated exclusively for, one or more of the purposes (religious, charitable, etc.) specified in the introduction to this chapter.
- No part of the organization's net earnings will inure to the benefit of private shareholders or individuals. You must establish that your organization will not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator's family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests.
- The organization will not, as a substantial part of its activities, attempt to influence legislation (unless it elects to come under the provisions allowing certain lobbying expenditures) or participate to any extent in a political campaign for or against any candidate for public office. See Political activity, next, and Lobbying Expenditures, near the end of this chapter.
If any of the activities (whether or not substantial) of your organization consist of participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, your organization will not qualify for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3). Such participation or intervention includes the publishing or distributing of statements.
Whether your organization is participating or intervening, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each case. Certain voter education activities or public forums conducted in a non-partisan manner may not be prohibited political activity under section 501(c)(3), while other so-called voter education activities may be prohibited.
If your organization is uncertain as to the effect of its voter education activities, you should request a letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service. Send the request to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attention: EO Letter Rulings
P.O. Box 27720, McPherson Station
Washington, DC 20038
Requests may also be hand delivered between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to:
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W. – PE
Washington, DC 20224
A receipt will be given at the courier's desk. The package should be marked: RULING REQUEST SUBMISSION.taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP274d41f0
Most organizations described in this chapter that were organized after October 9, 1969, will not be treated as tax exempt unless they apply for recognition of exemption by filing Form 1023. These organizations will not be treated as tax exempt for any period before they file Form 1023, unless they file the form within 15 months from the end of the month in which they were organized. If the organization files the application within this 15-month period, the organization's exemption will be recognized retroactively to the date it was organized. Otherwise, exemption will be recognized only for the period after the IRS receives the application. The date of receipt is the date of the U.S. postmark on the cover in which an exemption application is mailed or, if no postmark appears on the cover, the date the application is stamped as received by the IRS. taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP5bc0f4ac
If a private delivery service designated by the IRS, rather than the U.S. Postal Service, is used to deliver the application, the date of receipt is the date recorded or marked by the private delivery service. The following private delivery services have been designated by the IRS.
- DHL Worldwide Express (DHL): DHL "Same Day" Service, and DHL Next Day 10:30 am; DHL Next Day 12:00 pm; DHL Next Day 3:00 pm; and DHL 2nd Day Service.
- Federal Express (FedEx): FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2Day, FedEx International Priority, and FedEx International First.
- United Parcel Service (UPS): UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, and UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS Worldwide Express Plus and UPS Worldwide Express.
If an organization is required to alter its activities or to make substantive amendments to its enabling instrument, the ruling or determination letter recognizing its exempt status will be effective as of the date the changes are made. If only a nonsubstantive amendment is made, exempt status will be effective as of the date it was organized, if the application was filed within the 15-month period, or the date the application was filed. taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP79502b58
There are two ways organizations seeking exemption can receive an extension of time for filing Form 1023.
- Automatic 12-month extension. Organizations will receive an automatic 12-month extension if they file an application for recognition of exemption with the IRS within 12 months of the original deadline. To get this extension, an organization must add the following statement at the top of its application: "Filed Pursuant to Section 301.9100–2."
- Discretionary extensions. An organization that fails to file a Form 1023 within the extended 12-month period will be granted an extension to file if it submits evidence (including affidavits) to establish that:
- It acted reasonably and in good faith, and
- Granting a discretionary extension will not prejudice the interests of the government.
An organization acted reasonably and showed good faith if at least one of the following is true.
- The organization requests relief before its failure to file is discovered by the IRS.
- The organization failed to file because of intervening events beyond its control.
- The organization exercised reasonable diligence (taking into account the complexity of the return or issue and the organization's experience in these matters) but was not aware of the filing requirement.
- The organization reasonably relied upon the written advice of the IRS.
- The organization reasonably relied upon the advice of a qualified tax professional who failed to file or advise the organization to file Form 1023. An organization cannot rely on the advice of a tax professional if it knows or should know that he or she is not competent to render advice on filing exemption applications or is not aware of all the relevant facts.
An organization has not acted reasonably and in good faith under the following circumstances.
- It seeks to change a return position for which an accuracy-related penalty has been or could be imposed at the time the relief is requested.
- It was informed of the requirement to file and related tax consequences, but chose not to file.
- It uses hindsight in requesting relief. The IRS will not ordinarily grant an extension if specific facts have changed since the due date that makes filing an application advantageous to an organization.
Prejudice to the interest of the government results if granting an extension of time to file to an organization results in a lower total tax liability for the years to which the filing applies than would have been the case if the organization had filed on time. Before granting an extension, the IRS may require the organization requesting it to submit a statement from an independent auditor certifying that no prejudice will result if the extension is granted.
The interests of the Government are ordinarily prejudiced if the tax year in which the application should have been filed (or any tax year that would have been affected had the filing been timely) are closed by the statute of limitations before relief is granted. The IRS may condition a grant of relief on the organization providing the IRS with a statement from an independent auditor certifying that the interests of the Government are not prejudiced. taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP3fa3fc27
To request a discretionary extension, an organization must submit (to the IRS address shown on Form 8718) the following.
- A statement showing the date Form 1023 was required to have been filed and the date it was actually filed.
- Any documents relevant to the application.
- An affidavit describing in detail the events that led to the failure to apply and to the discovery of that failure. If the organization relied on a tax professional's advice, the affidavit must describe the engagement and responsibilities of the professional and the extent to which the organization relied on him or her.
- This affidavit must be accompanied by a dated declaration, signed by an individual who has personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances, who is authorized to act for the organization, which states, "Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this request, including accompanying documents, and, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the request contains all the relevant facts relating to the request, and such facts are true, correct, and complete."
- Detailed affidavits from individuals having knowledge or information about the events that led to the failure to make the application and to the discovery of that failure. This includes the organization's return preparer, and any accountant or attorney, knowledgeable in tax matters, who advised the taxpayer on the application. The affidavits must describe the engagement and responsibilities of the individual and the advice that he or she provided.
- These affidavits must include the name, current address, and taxpayer identification number of the individual, and be accompanied by a dated declaration, signed by the individual, which states: "Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this request, including accompanying documents, and, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the request contains all the relevant facts relating to the request, and such facts are true, correct, and complete."
- The organization must state whether the returns for the tax year in which the application should have been filed or any tax years that would have been affected by the application had it been timely made is being examined by the IRS, an appeals office, or a federal court. The organization must notify the IRS office considering the request for relief if the IRS starts an examination of any such return while the organization's request for relief is pending.
- The organization, if requested, has to submit copies of its tax returns, and copies of the returns of other affected taxpayers.
A request for this relief is a request that must be submitted as a request for a letter ruling and be accompanied by the applicable user fee. taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP69fd8da0
For more information about these procedures, see sections 301.9100–1, 301.9100–2, and 301.9100–3 of the regulations.taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP10333c2b
Organizations filing Form 1023 and satisfying all requirements of section 501(c)(3) will be notified of their exempt status in writing.taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP749f6058
Some organizations are not required to file Form 1023.
- Churches, interchurch organizations of local units of a church, conventions or associations of churches, or integrated auxiliaries of a church, such as a men's or women's organization, religious school, mission society, or youth group.
- Any organization (other than a private foundation) normally having annual gross receipts of not more than $5,000 (see Gross receipts test, later).
These organizations are exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3).taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP404c29b6
If the organization wants to establish its exemption with the IRS and receive a ruling or determination letter recognizing its exempt status, it should file Form 1023. By establishing its exemption, potential contributors are assured by the IRS that contributions will be deductible. A subordinate organization (other than a private foundation) covered by a group exemption letter does not have to submit a Form 1023 for itself. taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP728667c2
See Private Foundations and Public Charities, later, in this chapter, for more information about the additional notice required from an organization in order for it not to be presumed to be a private foundation and for the additional information required from a private foundation claiming to be an operating foundation.taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP39e47c23
For purposes of the gross receipts test, an organization normally does not have more than $5,000 annually in gross receipts if:
- During its first tax year the organization received gross receipts of $7,500 or less,
- During its first 2 years the organization had a total of $12,000 or less in gross receipts, and
- In the case of an organization that has been in existence for at least 3 years, the total gross receipts received by the organization during the immediately preceding 2 years, plus the current year, are $15,000 or less.
An organization with gross receipts more than the amounts in the gross receipts test, unless otherwise exempt from filing Form 1023, must file a Form 1023 within 90 days after the end of the period in which the amounts are exceeded. For example, an organization's gross receipts for its first tax year were less than $7,500, but at the end of its second tax year its gross receipts for the 2-year period were more than $12,000. The organization must file Form 1023 within 90 days after the end of its second tax year.
If the organization had existed for at least 3 tax years and had met the gross receipts test for all prior tax years but fails to meet the requirement for the current tax year, its tax-exempt status for the prior years will not be lost even if Form 1023 is not filed within 90 days after the close of the current tax year. However, the organization will not be treated as a section 501(c)(3) organization for the period beginning with the current tax year and ending with the filing of Form 1023. taxmap/pubs/p557-017.htm#TXMP3b064d1c
An organization is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes and is not a private foundation. It was incorporated on January 1, 2003, and files returns on a calendar-year basis. It did not file a Form 1023. The organization's gross receipts during the years 2003 through 2006 were as follows:
The organization's total gross receipts for 2003, 2004, and 2005 were $6,900. Therefore, it did not have to file Form 1023 and is exempt for those years. However, for 2004, 2005, and 2006 the total gross receipts were $15,900. Therefore, the organization must file Form 1023 within 90 days after the end of its 2006 tax year. If it does not file within this time period, it will not be exempt under section 501(c)(3) for the period beginning with tax year 2006 ending when the Form 1023 is received by the IRS. The organization, however, will not lose its exempt status for the tax years ending before January 1, 2006.
The IRS will consider applying the Commissioner's discretionary authority to extend the time for filing Form 1023. See the procedures for this extension discussed earlier.