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Publication 557

Status for Your 


What's New(p2)

Automatic revocation for not filing annual return or notice.(p2)
For annual tax periods beginning after 2006, the law requires most tax-exempt organizations, other than churches, to file an annual Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or to submit an annual electronic notice, Form 990-N (e-Postcard), to the IRS. If an organization fails to file an annual return or submit an annual notice as required for 3 consecutive years, it will automatically lose its tax-exempt status.
A list of revoked organizations can be found on For more information, see Automatic Revocation, later.
Final regulations under sections 170, 507, 509, 6033, and 6043 affect tax-exempt organizations required to file an annual return under section 6033 of the Code. The regulations provide guidance relating to the elimination of the advance ruling process for new organizations and change in public support computation, procedures for organizations seeking classification as public charities, and guidance regarding the reporting of other information required on the annual return. See T.D. 9549, IRB No. 2011-46, November 14, 2011, for details.
Redesigned Form 990 and Instructions.(p2)
The Form 990 has been redesigned for 2008 and later years. The new form consists of a 12-page, 12-part core form that is required to be completed by all organizations that file Form 990. It also consists of 16 schedules to be completed by those organizations that satisfy the applicable requirements for each schedule. It includes a fully redesigned Schedule H, Hospitals, due to the recent passage of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted March 23, 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-148.
Elimination of the advance public charity status.(p2)
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 after completing its first 5 tax years. The new rules apply to organizations with advance rulings expiring on or after June 9, 2008. See Elimination of the advance public charity status, later.
Report significant new or changed program services and changes to organizational documents.(p2)
An organization should report new significant program services or significant changes in how it conducts program services, and significant changes to its organizational documents, on its Form 990, rather than in a letter to the IRS Exempt Organizations Determinations (EO Determinations). EO Determinations no longer issues letters confirming the tax-exempt status of organizations that report new services or significant changes, or changes to organizational documents. See Report significant new or changed program services and changes to organizational, later.
Publication 78–Update on Revocation List of Exempt Organizations.(p2)
The IRS has issued a Revocation List of Exempt Organizations due to the fact that they have not filed tax returns for three consecutive years. See electronic only version of Publication 78, for details. See also Rev. Proc. 2011-33, 2011-25 I.R.B. 887.
Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan program (CO-OP program) released.(p2)
Notice 2011-23, 2011-23 I.R.B. 588, provides guidance on requirements for tax-exempt section 501(c)(29) qualified nonprofit health insurance issuers. See Notice 2011-23 for more information, Notice 2011-23 , 2011-23 I.R.B. 588.
Accountable Care Organizations (ACO).(p2)
The ACA establishes a Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) which encourages ACOs to facilitate cooperation among providers to improve the quality of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries and reduce unnecessary costs. See and then select the ACA page. See also Notice 2011-20, 2011-16 I.R.B. 652, for more information on ACOs.
Future developments.(p2)
The IRS has created a page on for information about Publication 557, at Information about any future developments affecting Publication 557 (such as legislation enacted after we release it) will be posted on that page.


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).(p2)
The ACA added several new laws. This includes a new excise tax on indoor tanning services, a small business health care tax credit, additional requirements for tax-exempt hospitals, and the section 501(c)(29) CO-OP program. For more information, go to and select Affordable Care Act Tax Provisions.
Electronic filing requirement for large organizations.(p2)
For tax years ending on or after December 31, 2006, only organizations that file 250 returns during the calendar year and that have total assets of $10 million or more are required to file Form 990 electronically. For more information, go to e-file for Charities and Non-Profits.
Section 501(c)(15) gross receipts.(p3)
The definition of gross receipts for purposes of determining whether small insurance companies qualify as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(15) has changed. See Notice 2006-42, 2006-19 I.R.B. 878, Notice 2006-42.
Prohibited tax shelter transactions.(p3)
New excise taxes are imposed under section 4965 on certain tax-exempt organizations entering into prohibited tax shelter transactions. IRS Issues Final Regulations Regarding Excise Taxes on Prohibited Tax Shelter Transactions and Related Disclosure Requirement.
Pension Protection Act of 2006 tax changes.(p3)
  • The Pension Protection Act of 2006 made numerous changes to the tax law provisions affecting tax-exempt organizations. Unless otherwise noted, most of the changes became effective on August 17, 2006. For key provisions, go to The Pension Protection Act of 2006.
Section 501(c)(3) organizations must make their Form 990-T open for public inspection for a period of 3 years from the date the Form 990-T is required to be filed (determined with regard to any extension of time for filing) or is actually filed, whichever is later.
There is an increase in excise taxes relating to public charities, social welfare organizations, and private foundations.
There are additional standards for credit counseling organizations.
The definition of convention or association of churches has been modified.
Entities that are not required to file Form 990 or 990-EZ must file new Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations Not Required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ.
The requirements of disclosure to state officials relating to exempt organizations has been modified.
There are excise taxes imposed on excess benefit transactions involving donor advised funds and sponsoring organizations.
There are new excise taxes on prohibited tax shelter transactions.


This publication discusses the rules and procedures for organizations that seek recognition of exemption from federal income tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code). It explains the procedures you must follow to obtain an appropriate ruling or determination letter recognizing your organization's exemption, as well as certain other information that applies generally to all exempt organizations. To qualify for exemption under the Code, your organization must be organized for one or more of the purposes specifically designated in the Code. Organizations that are exempt under section 501(a) include those organizations described in section 501(c). Section 501(c) organizations are covered in this publication.
Chapter 1, Application, Approval, and Appeal Procedures, provides general information about the procedures for obtaining recognition of tax-exempt status.
Chapter 2, Filing Requirements and Required Disclosures, contains information about annual filing requirements and other matters that may affect your organization's tax-exempt status.
Chapter 3, Section 501(c)(3) Organizations, contains detailed information on various matters affecting section 501(c)(3) organizations, including a section on the determination of private foundation status.
Chapter 4, Other Section 501(c) Organizations, includes separate sections for specific types of organizations described in section 501(c).
Chapter 5, Excise Taxes, provides information on when excise taxes may be imposed.

Organizations not discussed in this publication.(p3)

Certain organizations that may qualify for exemption are not discussed in this publication, although they are included in the Organization Reference Chart. These organizations (and the Code sections that apply to them) are as follows.
Corporations organized under Acts of Congress501(c)(1)
Teachers' retirement fund associations501(c)(11)
Mutual insurance companies501(c)(15)
Corporations organized to finance crop operations501(c)(16)
Employee funded pension trusts (created before June 25, 1959)501(c)(18)
Withdrawal liability payment fund501(c)(22)
Veterans' organizations (created before 1880)501(c)(23)
National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust501(c)(28)
CO-OP health insurance issuers501(c)(29)
Religious and apostolic associations501(d)
Cooperative hospital service organizations501(e)
Cooperative service organizations of operating educational organizations501(f)
Section 501(c)(24) organizations (section 4049 ERISA trusts) are neither discussed in the text nor listed in the Organization Reference Chart.
Similarly, farmers' cooperative associations that qualify for exemption under section 521, qualified state tuition programs described in section 529, and pension, profit-sharing, and stock bonus plans described in section 401(a) are not discussed in this publication. If you think your organization falls within one of these categories, contact the IRS for any additional information you need. For telephone assistance, call 1-877-829-5500.
Check the Table of Contents at the beginning of this publication to determine whether your organization is described in this publication. If it is, read the chapter (or section) that applies to your type of organization for the specific information you must give when applying for recognition of exemption.

Organization Reference Chart.(p3)

This chart enables you to locate at a glance the section of the Code under which your organization might qualify for exemption. It also shows the required application form and, if your organization meets the exemption requirements, the annual return to be filed (if any), and whether or not a contribution to your organization will be deductible by a donor. It also describes each type of qualifying organization and the general nature of its activities.
You may use this chart to determine the Code section that you think applies to your organization. Any correspondence with the IRS (in requesting forms or otherwise) will be expedited if you indicate in your correspondence the appropriate Code section. Check the IRS website,, for the latest updates. Tax Information for Charities & Other Non-Profits,

Comments and suggestions.(p3)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can e-mail us while visiting our website at
You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
TEGE and Specialty Forms and Publications Branch
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
If you wish telephone assistance, please call 1-877-829-5500. This toll-free telephone service is available Monday through Friday.