Life Cycle of a Social Welfare Organization
Civic leagues and social welfare organizations are exempt under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Social welfare organizations generally fall into one of the following categories:
Organizations that may be performing some type of public or community benefit but whose principal feature is lack of private benefit or profit;
Organizations that would qualify for exemption under section 501(c)(3) but for a defect in their organizing documents or if they were not "action organizations"; and
Nonprofit organizations that traditionally have been labeled in common parlance as social welfare organizations.
During its existence, a social welfare organization has numerous interactions with the IRS from filing an application for recognition of tax-exempt status, to filing the required annual information returns, to making changes in its mission and purpose. The IRS provides information, explanations, guides, forms and publications on all of these subjects through this IRS Web site. The illustration below provides an easy-to-use way of linking to the documents most organizations will need as they proceed though the phases of their "life cycle." You can also view a graphical depiction [link] of the chart, with links to our website.