A ruling or determination letter will be issued to your organization if its application and supporting documents establish that it meets the particular requirements of the section under which it is claiming exemption. However, the IRS will not ordinarily issue rulings or determination letters recognizing exemption if an issue involving the organization's exempt status is pending in litigation or is under consideration within the IRS.
Rulings in Advance of Operations: A ruling or determination letter may be issued in advance of operations if your organization can describe its proposed operations in enough detail to permit a conclusion that it will clearly meet the particular requirements of the section under which it is claiming exemption. A restatement of the organization's purpose or a statement that it will be operated in furtherance of that purpose will not satisfy this requirement. The 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 mentioned above, or fails to furnish a sufficiently detailed description of its proposed activities to permit a conclusion that it will clearly be exempt, a record of actual operations may be required before a ruling or determination letter is issued.
Adverse Determination: If an organization is unable to describe fully its purposes and activities, resulting in a refusal by the IRS to issue a ruling or determination letter, that refusal is considered an adverse determination, which the organization can appeal (PDF).
Public Disclosure: An exemption determination letter is subject to public disclosure.
Learn more about the benefits, limitations and expectations of tax-exempt organizations by attending 10 courses at the online Small to Mid-Size Tax Exempt Organization Workshop.