1.   Application, Approval, and Appeal Procedures

Introduction

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, go to Section 501(c)(3) Organizations chapter 3. If your organization is seeking exemption under one of the other paragraphs of section 501(c), see chapter 4.

Topics - This chapter discusses:

  • Application procedures that generally apply to all organizations discussed in this publication, including the application forms;

  • Rulings and determination letters (approvals/disapprovals);

  • Appeal procedures available if an adverse determination letter is proposed; and

  • Group exemption letters.

Application Procedures

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.

Forms Required

If your organization is seeking recognition of exemption from federal income tax, it must use a specific application prescribed by the IRS in Revenue Procedure 2013–9, sec. 3. If your organization is a central organization with exempt status, see Group Exemption Letter , later. All applications must be signed by an authorized individual.

Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption.   File Form 1023 if you are seeking recognition of exemption under section:

  • 501(c)(3) Corporations, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports, or prevention of cruelty for children or animals,

  • 501(e) Cooperative hospital service organization,

  • 501(f) Cooperative service organization of operating educational organizations,

  • 501(k) Certain organizations providing child care,

  • 501(n) Charitable risk pools, and

  • 501(q) Credit counseling organizations.

Form 1024, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(a).    File Form 1024 if you are seeking recognition of exemption under section:
  • 501(c)(2) Title holding corporations,

  • 501(c)(4) Civic leagues, social welfare organizations,

  • 501(c)(5) Labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations,

  • 501(c)(6) Business leagues, chambers of commerce, etc.,

  • 501(c)(7) Social clubs,

  • 501(c)(8) Fraternal beneficiary societies, orders, or associations,

  • 501(c)(9) Voluntary employees’ beneficiary associations,

  • 501(c)(10) Domestic fraternal societies, orders, etc.,

  • 501(c)(12) Benevolent life insurance associations, mutual ditch or irrigation companies, mutual or cooperative telephone companies,

  • 501(c)(13) Cemetery companies,

  • 501(c)(15) Mutual insurance companies or associations,

  • 501(c)(17) Trusts providing for the payment of supplemental unemployment compensation benefits,

  • 501(c)(19) A post, organization, auxiliary unit, etc. of past or present members of the Armed Forces of the United States, and

  • 501(c)(25) Title holding corporations or trusts.

 
Form 8718, User Fee for Exempt Organization Determination Letter Request, must also be sent along with Form 1024.

Letter application.   If your organization is seeking recognition of exemption under section 501(c)(11), (14), (16), (18), (21), (22), (23), (26), (27), (28), or (29), submit a letter application with Form 8718. See Required Inclusions for the information to include with the letter application.

Form 1028.   Use Form 1028 if your organization is a farmers’ cooperative seeking recognition of exemption under section 521. You must also submit Form 8718.

Form 8871.    Use Form 8871 if you are a political party or campaign committee for a candidate for federal, state or local office seeking to be treated as tax-exempt under section 527. See Political Organization Income Tax Return , later.

   
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, later.

Power of attorney.   If your organization expects to be represented by an individual such as an attorney, CPA, officer or other person authorized to practice before the IRS, whether in person or by correspondence, you must file a Form 2848 with your exemption application. The power of attorney must specifically authorize an individual to represent your organization. You cannot name an organization, firm, etc. as your representative. Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, can be used for this purpose. The categories of individuals who can represent you before the IRS are listed on the form.

Non-exemption for terrorist organizations.   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.

User fee.   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 filing Form 1023, user fee information is included in Part XI. If you are required to apply for recognition of exemption by submitting Form 1024, a letter application, etc. and you must pay a user fee, you should use Form 8718 to figure the amount of your user fee and to pay it. Your payment must accompany your request. The IRS will not process a request unless the fee has been paid.

  
For the current user fee amount and processing time for applications go to IRS.gov and select “Charities and Non-Profits” from the buttons near the top. Then select the underlined link “How to Apply To Be Tax-Exempt” for the latest user fees or I want to check the status of my application for more information. You can also call 1-877-829-5500.

Required Inclusions

Employer identification number (EIN).   Every exempt organization must have an EIN, whether or not it has any employees. An EIN is required before an exemption application is submitted. Information on how to apply for an EIN by using one of the following methods can be found at Employer ID Numbers (EIN):
  • Online— This is the preferred method for requesting an EIN. The EIN is issued immediately once the application information is validated.

  • By telephone at 1-800-829-4933, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday. The EIN is provided over the phone to an authorized individual.

  • By mailing or faxing Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number. If the faxed Form SS-4 includes the taxpayer's fax number, a fax will be sent back with the EIN within four (4) business days.

  
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.

Organizing documents.   Your application should include a copy of the organizing or enabling document that is signed by a principal officer or is accompanied by a written declaration signed by an authorized individual certifying that the document is a complete and accurate copy of the original or meets the requirements of a conformed copy.

  If your organizing or enabling document are articles of incorporation, include evidence that it was filed and approved by a state official. (For example, a stamped “Filed” copy dated by the Secretary of State is prima facie evidence that it was filed and approved by a state official.) A copy of the articles of incorporation can also be submitted with a written declaration signed by an authorized individual indicating the copy is complete and was filed and approved by the state, including the date filed.

Bylaws.   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).

Conformed copy.   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.

Attachments.    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.

Original documents.   Do not submit original documents because they become part of the IRS file and cannot be returned.

Description of activities.   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.

Financial data.   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.

Exempt status established in application.   If your application and its supporting documents show that your organization meets the requirements for tax-exempt status under the Code section you applied, the IRS will issue a favorable determination letter or ruling.

Miscellaneous Procedures

To help in processing 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 processing your application.

Incomplete application.   If an application is not complete and does not contain all the required attachments found under Required Inclusions, the IRS may return it to you for completion. The IRS may keep the application and send a letter requesting the missing information if most of the information has been received.

  If the IRS returns the application or requests additional information from you, that application will be considered filed on the date the substantially completed application is postmarked, or if no postmark, received at the IRS.

  Generally, the user fee will not be refunded if an incomplete application is filed.

  Additional information may be requested if necessary to clarify the nature of your organization.

Application made under wrong paragraph of section 501(c).   Occasionally, an organization appears 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 can 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.

Different application form needed.   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 a determination letter is modified to recognize an organization's exempt status under a paragraph other than the paragraph under which it originally established exemption.

IRS responses.   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 EO Technical Office for consideration. These letters will be sent out as soon as possible after receipt of the organization's application.

Withdrawal of application.   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.

Requests for withholding of information from the public.   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, can be withheld from public inspection if the IRS determines that the disclosure of such information would adversely affect the organization. Your request must:
  1. Identify the material to be withheld (the document, page, paragraph, and line) by clearly marking it Not Subject To Public Inspection.

  2. Include the reasons for your organization's position that the information is of the type that can be withheld from public inspection.

  3. Be filed with the office where your organization files the documents in which the material to be withheld is contained.

Where to file.   Send your application for exempt status and Form 8718, (if required) to:

Internal Revenue Service 
PO Box 12192 
Covington, KY 41012-0192

  Your application will be considered by 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).

   Form 8940, Request for Miscellaneous Determination. You can request miscellaneous determinations under sections 507, 509(a), 4940, 4942, 4945, and 6033 with Form 8940. Nonexempt charitable trusts also file Form 8940 for an initial determination of section 509(a)(3) status or change to their type. See Form 8940 and instructions for more information.

Requests other than applications. Requests other than applications for recognition of exemption or Form 8940 (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 
PO Box 27720 
McPherson Station 
Washington, DC 20038

These requests, similar to applications for recognition of exemption previously discussed, must be accompanied by the appropriate user fee. The schedule for user fees, including those for requests other than applications, can be found in Revenue Procedure 2013-8, 2013-1 I.R.B. 237.

Referral to EO Technical.   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 can 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 can 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.

Reminder.   The law requires payment of a user fee for determination letter requests. Go to IRS.gov/Charities and select Current User Fees-Exempt Organizations to find the required payment. Payment must accompany each request.

Rulings and Determination Letters

Elimination of the advance public charity status.   New regulations eliminate the advance ruling process for a section 501(c)(3) organization. Under the new regulations, a new section 501(c)(3) organization will be classified as a publicly supported organization and not a private foundation if it can show when it applies for tax-exempt status that it reasonably can be expected to be publicly supported. The new rules no longer require the organization to file Form 8734, Support Schedule for Advance Ruling Period, after completing its first 5 tax years. See Elimination of the Advance Ruling Process .

An organization must describe fully the activities in which it expects to engage. This includes standards, procedures, or other means adopted or planned by the organization for carrying out its activities, expected sources of funds, and the nature of its contemplated expenses.

When an organization does not supply the information previously mentioned under Application Procedures , or fails to furnish a sufficiently detailed description of its proposed activities to permit a conclusion that it will clearly be exempt, a proposed adverse determination letter or ruling may be issued.

Adverse determination.   A proposed adverse ruling or determination letter will be issued to an organization that has not provided sufficiently detailed information to establish that it qualifies for exemption or if the information provided establishes that it does not qualify for exemption. An organization can appeal a proposed adverse ruling or determination letter. See Appeal Procedures , later.

Effective Date of Exemption

A ruling or determination letter recognizing exemption is usually effective as of the date of formation of an organization if, during the period before the date of the ruling or determination letter, its purposes and activities were those required by the law. (See Application for Recognition of Exemption in chapter 3 for the special rule for organizations applying for recognition of exemption under section 501(c)(3).) Upon obtaining recognition of exemption, the organization can file a claim for a refund of income taxes paid for the period for which its exempt status is recognized.

If an organization is required to alter its activities or substantially amend its charter to qualify, the ruling or determination letter recognizing exemption will be effective as of the date specified in the letter. If a nonsubstantive amendment is made, such as correction of a clerical error in the enabling instrument or the addition of a dissolution clause, exemption will ordinarily be recognized as of the date of formation if the activities of the organization before the ruling or determination are consistent with the exemption requirements.

A ruling or determination letter recognizing exemption cannot be relied on if there is a material change, inconsistent with exemption, in the character, the purpose, or the method of operation of the organization. Also, a ruling or determination letter cannot be relied on if it is based on any inaccurate material factual representations.

Revocation or Modification of Exemption

A ruling or determination letter recognizing exemption may be revoked or modified by:

  1. A notice to the organization to which the ruling or determination letter originally was issued,

  2. Enactment of legislation or ratification of a tax treaty,

  3. A decision of the United States Supreme Court,

  4. Issuance of temporary or final regulations, or

  5. Issuance of a revenue ruling, a revenue procedure, or other statement published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin or Cumulative Bulletin.

When revocation takes effect.   If the organization omitted or misstated a material fact, operated in a manner materially different from that originally represented, or, with regard to organizations to which section 503 applies, engaged in a prohibited transaction (such as diverting corpus or income from its exempt purpose), the revocation or modification may be retroactive.

Material change in organization.   If there is a material change, inconsistent with exemption, in the character, purpose, or method of operation of the organization, revocation or modification will ordinarily take effect as of the date of that material change.

Relief from retroactivity.   If a ruling or determination letter was issued in error or the IRS changed its position after issuing a letter or ruling, and if section 7805(b) relief is granted, retroactivity of the revocation or modification ordinarily will be limited to a date not earlier than that on which the original ruling or determination letter was modified or revoked. For more information on requesting section 7805(b) relief, see Revenue Procedure 2013-4, 2013-1 I.R.B. 126, sec. 13 (or later update).

Foundations.   The determination of the effective date is the same for the revocation or modification of foundation status or operating foundation status unless the effective date is expressly covered by statute or regulations.

Written notice.   If an EO area manager concludes, as a result of examining an information return or considering information from any other source, that a ruling or determination letter should be revoked or modified, the organization will be advised in writing of the proposed action and the reasons for it.

  The organization will also be advised of its right to protest the proposed action by requesting Appeals Office consideration. The appeal procedures are discussed next.

Appeal Procedures

If your organization applies for tax-exempt status and EO Determination decides your organization does not qualify, your organization will be advised of its rights to protest the determination by requesting Appeals Office consideration. This process does not apply to determinations issued by EO Technical. Your organization must submit a statement of its views fully explaining its reasoning. The statement must be submitted within 30 days from the date of the adverse determination letter and must state whether it wishes Appeals Office consideration.

Representation.   A principal officer or trustee can represent an organization at any level of appeal within the IRS. Also, an attorney, certified public accountant, or individual enrolled to practice before the IRS can represent the organization.

  If the organization's representative attends a conference without a principal officer or trustee, the representative must file a proper power of attorney or a tax information authorization before receiving or inspecting confidential information. Form 2848 or Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, as appropriate (or any other properly written power of attorney or authorization), can be used for this purpose. These forms can be obtained from the IRS. For more information, see Publication 947, Practice Before the IRS and Power of Attorney.

Appeals Office Consideration

EO Determinations will consider the statement protesting and appealing (hereinafter appealing) the adverse determination and decide if the information affects its determination. If the appeal does not provide a basis to reconsider its adverse determination, it will forward the appeal and case file to the Appeals Office. For more information about the role of the Appeals Office, see Publication 892, Exempt Organization Appeal Procedures for Unagreed Issues. The appeal should include the following information.

  1. The organization's name, address, daytime telephone number, and employer identification number.

  2. A statement that the organization wants to protest the determination.

  3. A copy of the letter showing the determination you disagree with, or the date and symbols on the determination letter.

  4. A statement of facts supporting the organization's position in any contested factual issue.

  5. A statement outlining the law or other authority the organization is relying on.

  6. A statement as to whether a conference at the Appeals Office is desired.

The statement of facts in item 4 must be declared true under penalties of perjury. This may be done by adding to the protest the following signed declaration:

  Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined the statement of facts presented in this protest and in any accompanying schedules and statements and, to the best of my knowledge and belief, it is true, correct, and complete.  
     
  Signature.  

If the organization's representative submits the appeal, a substitute declaration must be included, stating:

  1. That the representative prepared the appeal and accompanying documents, and

  2. Whether the representative knows personally that the statements of fact contained in the appeal and accompanying documents are true and correct.

Be sure the appeal contains all of the information requested. Incomplete appeals will be returned for completion.

If a conference is requested, it will be held at the Appeals Office, unless the organization requests that the meeting be held at a field office convenient to both parties.

The Appeals Office, after considering the organization's appeal as well as information presented in any conference held, will notify the organization of its decision and issue an appropriate determination letter. An adverse decision can be appealed to the courts (discussed later).

The Appeals Office must request technical advice from EO Technical on 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. If an organization believes that its case involves such an issue, it should ask the Appeals Office to request technical advice.

Any determination letter issued on the basis of technical advice from EO Technical cannot be appealed to the Appeals Office for those issues that were the subject of the technical advice from EO Technical.

EO Technical Consideration

If an application is referred to EO Technical for issuance of a ruling and an adverse ruling is issued, the organization will be informed of the basis for the conclusion, its right to file a protest within 30 days, and its right to have a conference with EO Technical.

Administrative Remedies

In the case of an application under section 501(c)(3), all of the following actions, called administrative remedies, must be completed by your organization before an unfavorable ruling or determination letter from the IRS can be appealed to the courts.

  1. The filing of a substantially completed application Form 1023 or group exemption request under section 501(c)(3) (described earlier in this chapter) or the filing of a request for a determination of foundation status (see Private Foundations and Public Charities in chapter 3).

  2. In the case of a late-filed application, requesting relief under Regulations section 301.9100 regarding applications for extensions of time for making an election or application for relief from tax (see Application for Recognition of Exemption in chapter 3).

  3. The timely submission of all additional information requested to perfect an exemption application or request for determination of private foundation status.

  4. Exhaustion of all administrative appeals available within the IRS, including protest of an adverse ruling issued by EO Technical in the case of an exemption application.

The actions just described will not be considered completed until the IRS has had a reasonable time to act upon the appeal or protest, as the case may be.

An organization will not be considered to have exhausted its administrative remedies before the earlier of:

  1. The completion of the steps just listed and the sending by certified or registered mail of a notice of final determination, or

  2. The expiration of the 270-day period in which the IRS has not issued a notice of final determination and the organization has taken, in a timely manner, all reasonable steps to secure a ruling or determination.

270-day period.   The 270-day period will be considered by the IRS to begin on the date a substantially completed Form 1023 or group exemption request is sent to the IRS. See Application Procedures , earlier, for information needed to complete Form 1023.

  If the application does not contain all of the required items, it will not be further processed and may be returned to the applicant for completion. The 270-day period, in this event, will not be considered as starting until the date the application is remailed to the IRS with the requested information, or, if a postmark is not evident, on the date the IRS receives a substantially completed application.

Appeal to Courts

If the IRS issues an unfavorable determination letter or ruling to your organization and you have exhausted all the administrative remedies just discussed, your organization can seek judicial remedies.

For example, if your organization has paid the tax resulting from the adverse determination and met all other statutory prerequisites, it can file suit for a refund in a U.S. District Court or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Or, if your organization elected not to pay the tax deficiency resulting from the adverse determination and met all other statutory prerequisites, it can file suit for a redetermination of the tax deficiencies in the United States Tax Court. For more information on these types of suits, get Publication 556, Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund.

In certain situations, your organization can file suit for a declaratory judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, or the U.S. Tax Court. This remedy is available if your organization received an adverse notice of final determination, or if the IRS failed to make a timely determination on your initial or continuing qualification or classification as an exempt organization. However, your exempt status claim must be as:

  • An organization qualifying under section 501(c)(3),

  • An organization to which a deduction for a contribution is allowed under section 170(c)(2),

  • An organization that is a private foundation under section 509(a),

  • A private operating foundation under section 4942(j)(3), or

  • A cooperative organization that is exempt from tax under section 521.

Adverse notice of final determination.   The adverse notice of final determination referred to above is a ruling or determination letter sent by certified or registered mail holding that your organization:
  • Is not described in section 501(c)(3) or section 170(c)(2),

  • Is a private foundation as defined in section 4942(j)(3), or

  • Is a public charity described in a part of section 509(a) or section 170(b)(1)(A) other than the part under which your organization requested classification.

Favorable court rulings - IRS procedure.   If a suit results in a final determination that your organization is exempt from tax, the IRS will issue a favorable ruling or determination letter, provided your organization has filed an application for exemption and submitted a statement that the underlying facts and applicable law are the same as in the period considered by the court.

Group Exemption Letter

A group exemption letter is a ruling or determination letter issued to a central organization recognizing on a group basis the exemption under section 501(c) of subordinate organizations on whose behalf the central organization has applied for recognition of exemption.

A central organization is an organization that has one or more subordinates under its general supervision or control.

A subordinate organization is a chapter, local, post, or unit of a central organization. A central organization may be a subordinate itself, such as a state organization that has subordinate units and is itself affiliated with a national (central) organization.

A subordinate organization may or may not be incorporated, but it must have an organizing document. A subordinate that is organized and operated in a foreign country cannot be included in a group exemption letter. A subordinate described in section 501(c)(3) cannot be included in a group exemption letter if it is a private foundation described in section 509(a).

If your organization is a subordinate controlled by a central organization (for example, a church, a veterans' organization, or a fraternal organization), you should check with the central organization to see if it has been issued a group exemption letter that covers your organization. If it has, you do not have to file a separate application unless your organization no longer wants to be included in the group exemption letter.

If the group exemption letter does not cover your organization, ask your central organization about being included in the next annual group ruling update that it submits to the IRS.

Central Organization Application Procedure

If your organization is a central organization with affiliated subordinates under its control, it can apply for a group exemption letter for its subordinates, provided it has obtained recognition of its own exemption before or concurrently with the group exemption. You should make the application for such subordinates by letter instead of submitting either Form 1023 or 1024. This procedure relieves each of the subordinates covered by a group exemption letter from filing its own application. A central organization obtains its own recognition of exemption by sending its application to the IRS address shown on Form 8718 or Form 1023.

If the central organization has previously obtained recognition of its own exemption, it must indicate its employer identification number and the date of the letter recognizing its exemption. It need not forward documents already submitted. However, if it has not already done so, the central organization must submit a copy of any amendment to its governing instruments or internal regulations as well as any information about changes in its character, purposes, or method of operation.

Employer identification number.   The central organization must have an EIN before it submits a completed exemption or group exemption application. Each subordinate must have its own EIN, even if it has no employees. When submitting its group exemption application, the central organization must provide an EIN for each subordinate organization.

Information required for subordinate organizations.   In addition to the information required to obtain recognition of its own exemption, the central organization must submit information for those subordinates to be included in the group exemption letter. The information should be forwarded in a letter signed by a principal officer of the central organization setting forth or including as attachments the following.
  1. Information verifying that the subordinates:

    1. Are affiliated with the central organization at the close of its annual accounting period;

    2. Are subject to its general supervision or control;

    3. Are all eligible to qualify for exemption under the same paragraph of section 501(c), though not necessarily the paragraph under which the central organization itself is exempt;

    4. Are not private foundations if the application for a group exemption letter involves section 501(c)(3);

    5. Are all on the same accounting period as the central organization if they are to be included in group returns; and

    6. Are organizations that have been formed within the 15-month period preceding the date of submission of the group exemption application if they are claiming section 501(c)(3) status and are subject to the requirements of section 508(a) and wish to be recognized as exempt from their dates of creation (a group exemption letter may be issued covering subordinates, one or more of which have not been organized within the 15-month period preceding the date of submission, if all subordinates are willing to be recognized as exempt only from the date of application).

  2. A detailed description of the purposes and activities of the subordinates, including the sources of receipts and the nature of expenditures.

  3. A sample copy of a uniform governing instrument (such as a charter or articles of association) adopted by the subordinates, or, in its absence, copies of representative instruments.

  4. An affirmation to the effect that, to the best of the officer's knowledge, the purposes and activities of the subordinates are as stated in (2) and (3), above.

  5. A statement that each of the subordinates has provided a written authorization to the central organization, signed by an authorized officer of the subordinate, agreeing to be included in the group exemption (see also New 501(c)(3) organizations that want to be included , later in this section).

  6. A list of subordinates to be included in the group exemption letter to which the IRS has issued an outstanding ruling or determination letter relating to exemption.

  7. If the application for a group exemption letter involves section 501(c)(3) and is subject to the provisions of the Code requiring that it give timely notice that it is not a private foundation (see Private Foundations in chapter 3), an affirmation to the effect that, to the best of the officer's knowledge and belief, no subordinate to be included in the group exemption letter is a private foundation as defined in section 509(a).

  8. For each subordinate that is a school claiming exemption under section 501(c)(3), the information required by Revenue Ruling 71-447, 1971-2 C.B. 230 and Revenue Procedure 75-50, 1975-2 C.B. 587 (these requirements are fully described in chapter 3, under Private Schools ; see also Schedule B, Form 1023).

  9. For any school affiliated with a church, the information to show that the provisions of Revenue Ruling 75-231, 1975-1 C.B. 158, have been met.

  10. A list of the names, mailing addresses, actual addresses if different, and EINs of subordinates to be included in the group exemption letter. A current directory of subordinates may be furnished instead of the list if it includes the required information and if the subordinates not to be included in the group exemption letter are identified.

New 501(c)(3) organizations that want to be included.   A new organization, described in section 501(c)(3), that wants to be included in a group exemption letter must submit its authorization (as explained in item number 5, earlier, under Information required for subordinate organizations ) to the central organization before the end of the 15th month after it was formed in order to satisfy the requirement of section 508(a). The central organization must also include this subordinate in its next annual submission of information, as discussed later, under Information Required Annually .

Keeping the Group Exemption Letter in Force

Continued effectiveness of a group exemption letter is based on the following conditions.

  1. The continued existence of the central organization.

  2. The continued qualification of the central organization for exemption under section 501(c).

  3. The submission by the central organization of the information regarding its subordinate organizations that is required annually (described under Information Required Annually).

  4. The annual filing of an information return (Form 990, for example) by the central organization if required.

The continued effectiveness of a group exemption letter as to a particular subordinate is based on these four conditions, as well as on the continued conformity by the subordinate to the requirements for inclusion in a group exemption letter, the authorization for inclusion, and the annual filing of any required information return for the subordinate.

Information Required Annually

To maintain a group exemption letter, the central organization must submit annually, at least 90 days before the close of its annual accounting period, all of the following information.

  1. Information about all changes in the purposes, character, or method of operation of the subordinates included in the group exemption letter.

  2. A separate list (that includes the names, mailing addresses, actual addresses if different, and EINs of the affected subordinates) for each of the three following categories.

    1. Subordinates that have changed their names or addresses during the year.

    2. Subordinates no longer to be included in the group exemption letter because they no longer exist or have disaffiliated from or withdrawn their authorization to the central organization.

    3. Subordinates to be added to the group exemption letter because they are newly organized or affiliated or because they have recently authorized the central organization to include them.

    An annotated directory of subordinates will not be accepted for this purpose. If there were none of the above changes, the central organization must submit a statement to that effect.

  3. The same information about new subordinates that was required in the initial application for group exemption. (This information is listed in items 1 through 10, under Information required for subordinate organizations. , earlier.) If a new subordinate does not differ in any material respects from the subordinates included in the application for group exemption, however, a statement to this effect may be submitted in lieu of detailed information.

The organization should send this information to:

 
 
Ogden Service Center  
Mail Stop 6271 
Ogden, UT 84404-4749

Submitting the required information annually does not relieve the central organization or any of its subordinates of the duty to submit any other information that may be required by an EO area manager to determine whether the conditions for continued exemption are being met.

Events Causing Loss of Group Exemption

A group exemption letter no longer has effect, for either a particular subordinate or the group as a whole, when:

  1. The central organization notifies the IRS that it is going out of existence,

  2. The central organization notifies the IRS, by its annual submission or otherwise, that any of its subordinates will no longer fulfill the conditions for continued effectiveness, explained earlier, or

  3. The IRS notifies the central organization or the affected subordinate that the group exemption letter will no longer have effect for some or all of the group because the conditions for continued effectiveness of a group exemption letter have not been fulfilled.

When notice is given under any of these three conditions, the IRS will no longer recognize the exempt status of the affected subordinates until they file separate applications on their own behalf or the central organization files complete supporting information for their reinclusion in the group exemption at the time of its annual submission. However, when the notice is given by the IRS and the withdrawal of recognition is based on the failure of the organization to comply with the requirements for recognition of tax-exempt status under the particular subsection of section 501(c), the revocation will ordinarily take effect as of the date of that failure. The notice, however, will be given only after the appeal procedures described earlier in this chapter are completed.


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