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Exempt Organizations General Issues: Deductibility of Contributions While Application Pending

Are contributions to an organization deductible while the organization's application for exemption is pending?

Contributors to the organization do not have advance assurance of deductibility while the organization's application is pending. If the organization ultimately qualifies for exemption for the period in which the contribution is made, the contribution will be tax deductible by the donor. Alternatively, if the organization ultimately does not qualify for exemption, then the contribution will not be tax deductible.

To be exempt under section 501(c)(3), most organizations must file Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ by the end of the 27th month after they were created. If an organization does so, and the application is approved, charitable contributions to it will be deductible back to the date of formation.

The effective date of tax-exempt status (and the deductibility of contributions) depends on whether the organization has:

  • Timely filed Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, but has not yet received a letter recognizing its exempt status (explained above),
  • Filed Form 1023 later than the prescribed time, or