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Publication 557

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This publication discusses the rules and procedures for organizations that seek recognition of exemption from federal income tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code). It explains the procedures you must follow to obtain an appropriate ruling or determination letter recognizing your organization's exemption, as well as certain other information that applies generally to all exempt organizations. To qualify for exemption under the Code, your organization must be organized for one or more of the purposes specifically designated in the Code. Organizations that are exempt under section 501(a) include those organizations described in section 501(c). Section 501(c) organizations are covered in this publication.
Chapter 1 provides general information about the procedures for obtaining recognition of tax-exempt status.
Chapter 2 contains information about annual filing requirements and other matters that may affect your organization's tax-exempt status.
Chapter 3 contains detailed information on various matters affecting section 501(c)(3) organizations, including a section on the determination of private foundation status.
Chapter 4 includes separate sections for specific types of organizations described in section 501(c).
Chapter 5 provides information on when excise taxes may be imposed.

Organizations not discussed in this publication.(p3)

Certain organizations that may qualify for exemption are not discussed in this publication, although they are included in the Organization Reference Chart. These organizations (and the Code sections that apply to them) are as follows.
Corporations organized under Acts of Congress501(c)(1)
Teachers' retirement fund associations501(c)(11)
Mutual insurance companies501(c)(15)
Corporations organized to finance crop operations501(c)(16)
Employee funded pension trusts (created before June 25, 1959)501(c)(18)
Withdrawal liability payment fund501(c)(22)
Veterans' organizations (created before 1880)501(c)(23)
National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust501(c)(28)
Religious and apostolic associations501(d)
Cooperative hospital service organizations501(e)
Cooperative service organizations of operating educational organizations501(f)
Section 501(c)(24) organizations (section 4049 ERISA trusts) are neither discussed in the text nor listed in the Organization Reference Chart.
Likewise, farmers' cooperative associations that qualify for exemption under section 521, qualified state tuition programs described in section 529, and pension, profit-sharing, and stock bonus plans described in section 401(a) are not discussed in this publication. If you think your organization falls within one of these categories, contact the IRS for any additional information you need. For telephone assistance, call 1-877-829-5500.
Check the Table of Contents at the beginning of this publication to determine whether your organization is described in this publication. If it is, read the chapter (or section) that applies to your type of organization for the specific information you must give when applying for recognition of exemption.

Organization Reference Chart.(p3)

This chart enables you to locate at a glance the section of the Code under which your organization might qualify for exemption. It also shows the required application form and, if your organization meets the exemption requirements, the annual return to be filed (if any), and whether or not a contribution to your organization will be deductible by a donor. It also describes each type of qualifying organization and the general nature of its activities.
You may use this chart to determine the Code section that you think applies to your organization. Any correspondence with the IRS (in requesting forms or otherwise) will be expedited if you indicate in your correspondence the appropriate Code section. Check the IRS website,, for the latest updates.

Comments and suggestions.(p3)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can e-mail us while visiting our website at
You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service 
TEGE and Specialty Forms and Publications Branch 
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526 
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
If you wish telephone assistance, please call 1-877-829-5500. This toll-free telephone service is available Monday through Friday.