Form 1023 Paperwork, In Millions of Hours, 1986 to 2016
Source: U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Click image to learn more.
Check Your EO/BMF Record
The IRS recently made it possible for individuals to view a transcript of their tax records on-line. Currently, there is no similar program for tax exempt organizations, but it has been possible for anyone to view portions of the IRS database of exempt organizations (EO/BMF) on-line for more than a decade.
At least a month or two after your organization receives its determination letter, make sure the information about your group in the IRS' on-line database is correct. Here's how:
a. Go to this page of irs.gov
If the link is not working, find the link to Tax Stats, Facts & Figures in the lower left hand corner of most irs.gov pages. On the page that comes up, choose Exempt Org Population Data under the heading, Charitable & Exempt Org. Statistics. You want the Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract, under Other Available Data.
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b. Find Your State
On the EO/BMF page, scroll down to the map. Clicking on your state will initiate a download – a dialog box will appear to give you a chance to rename the file and decide where you want it on your hard drive. Remember this information.
Please note that these are CSV files (comma separated values). Although they can be viewed using Microsoft Excel (the IRS provides a link to an Excel Viewer) many Excel options are not available. If, for instance, you want to change (and save) most formatting options, such as the width of the columns, you must re-save the file in Excel first.
c. Find Your Organization's Record
Organizations are listed numerically by EIN (Employer Identification Number), and that is the most reliable way to search. To shorten the time it takes to search, limit your search to EINs. Hover your mouse arrow over the top of the EIN column. When a downward pointing arrow appears, click it. This will highlight that column. Activate the Microsoft Excel search box by clicking on the "Home" tab to the left on the ribbon, clicking on the binoculars or magnifying glass at the top far right of the screen, and then clicking on "Find." Enter, and double check, your organization's EIN in the search box. Do not enter the dash. Click on Find Next.
d. Check Your Basic Information
The first seven column headings (fields) in your organization's EO/BMF record are basic identifying information. Check these for accuracy. If you find an error, notify the IRS. Update Your IRS Information tells how. If you are reporting a name change, remember to send documentation showing that the name change was formally adopted and, if your group is incorporated, filed with state authorities.
e. Check Your Other Information
Click here for a PDF that reproduces the other column headings in the EO/BMF. Print this sheet and use it to make a note of the codes the IRS has listed for your organization. The instruction booklet for the EO/BMF is here. If you save the instructions on your computer, it will be easier to search the text to find the code you are looking for.
This website has only a fraction of the information you can find in Prepare Your Own 501(c)(3) Application
For instance, to find the meaning of a "3" in column I, subsection code, search for "subsection." This will eventually get you to the table of EO subsection and classification codes, where you can see that a "3" in column I indicates that the organization is exempt under section 501(c)(3).
Another example: To find the meaning of "10" in column N, search for "foundation code." According to the table of Foundation Codes, "10" is used when the organization is considered a church.
Ruling dates (column L), and Tax Period dates (column S) are in a YYYYMM format. A ruling date of 201601 indicates the organization was recognized exempt during January of 2016, while a tax period of 201506 indicates the most recent return the IRS received from your organization was for the fiscal year ending June, 2015.
NOTE: The EO/BMF is famous for having a lot of errors (leading to more than 10,000 organizations having their exempt status automatically revoked in error), but if tax professionals and exempt organizations themselves will help, we can keep it much more accurate. Doing so will help non-profits and everyone else concerned.
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com with questions.
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Check Your IRS Record
Real Help With Your 501(c)(3) Application
Prepare Your Own 501(c)(3) Application
By Sandy Deja © 2016 400 pages ISBN 978-0-9815280-9-0
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(available in pdf as well; send email request)