To be exempt under section 501(c)(3), an organization must file an application for recognition of exemption with the IRS. The law provides limited exceptions to the filing requirement.
File either Form 1023, Interactive Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ to apply for exemption under section 501(c)(3). The applications have instructions, checksheets or worksheets to help you provide the information required to process your application. The IRS will not process an incomplete application.
See When to File for an explanation of the deadlines for filing an application..
Exceptions to Application Requirement
The following organizations are excepted from the exemption application requirement:
Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches; and
An organization that is not a private foundation and the gross receipts of which in each taxable year are normally not more than $5,000.