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Publication 557

Chapter 1
Application, Approval, and Appeal Procedures(p3)


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.

Application Procedures(p3)

Oral requests for recognition of exemption will not be considered by the IRS. Your application for recognition of tax-exempt status must be in writing using the appropriate forms as discussed below.

Forms Required(p3)

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 2016-5, 2016-1 I.R.B. 188. 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.(p3)

File Form 1023 if you are seeking recognition of exemption under section:

New Form 1023-EZ.(p3)

In 2014, the IRS created a new form, Form 1023–EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It can be used by smaller organizations seeking exemption with the IRS. Generally, these are organizations which have assets of $250,000 or less and annual gross receipts of $50,000 or less. See Revenue Procedure 2016-5, 2016-1 I.R.B. 188.

Form 1024, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(a).(p3)

File Form 1024 if you are seeking recognition of exemption under section:
Form 8718, User Fee for Exempt Organization Determination Letter Request, must also be sent along with Form 1024.

Letter application.(p4)

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.(p4)

Use Form 1028, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 521 of the Internal Revenue Code, if your organization is a farmers’ cooperative seeking recognition of exemption under section 521. You must also submit Form 8718.

Form 8871.(p4)

Use Form 8871, Political Organization Notice of Section 527 Status, if you are a political organization seeking to be treated as tax-exempt under section 527 unless an exception applies. 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.(p4)

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, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, 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 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.(p4)

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.(p4)

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 Revenue Procedure 2016-8, 2016-1 I.R.B. 243. If you are filing Form 1023-EZ, the user fee must be submitted through 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. Additional information regarding user fees, including specific amounts, is contained in Revenue Procedure 2016-8, 2016-1, I.R.B. 243.
For the current user fee amount and processing time for applications go to and select "Charities and Non-Profits" from the buttons near the top. Next, select the underlined link "Applying for Tax-Exempt Status" 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(p4)


Employer identification number (EIN).(p4)

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 can be found online at Employer ID Numbers (EIN). The EIN is issued immediately once the application information is validated.
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.(p4)

If you are submitting a Form 1023 or Form 1024, 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 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.(p4)
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.


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.(p4)
Do not submit original documents because they become part of the IRS file and cannot be returned.

Description of activities.(p4)

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.(p4)

Unless you are filing Form 1023-EZ, 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.(p4)

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(p4)

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.(p5)

If an application is not complete and does not contain all the required attachments found under Required Inclusions, the IRS will return it to you for completion. The IRS will no longer request the missing information if the application is incomplete. See Revenue Procedure 2016-5.
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.
For applications that are returned to the applicant because they are not complete, the user fee will be returned or refunded.
Additional information may be requested if necessary to clarify the nature of your organization.

Application made under wrong paragraph of section 501(c).(p5)

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.(p5)
If a different application form is required for your organization, the IRS will so advise your organization. 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.(p5)

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. These letters will be sent out as soon as possible after receipt of the organization's application.

Withdrawal of application.(p5)

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.(p5)

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.(p5)

Send your application for recognition of exempt status (other than a Form 1023-EZ) 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, or issue an adverse determination letter denying the exempt status claimed in the application. Applications for exempt status on a Form 1023-EZ must be electronically submitted through Paper submissions will not be accepted.
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.
Due date
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 2015-8, 2015-1 I.R.B. 235.

Prior Referral to EO Technical.(p5)

As described in section 5 of Revenue Procedure 2016-5, EO Determinations generally issues determination letters. However, in limited circumstances applications that were previously transferred to EO Technical for processing will be worked under the procedures described in the Revenue Procedure. EO Determinations can request technical advice from the Office of Chief Counsel (TE/GE) on any question that cannot be resolved on the basis of law, regulations, or a clearly applicable revenue ruling or other published precedent.


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