Form 1023 Paperwork, In Millions of Hours, 1986 to 2016

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​​​​​​​​​​​Real Help With Your 501(c)(3) Application


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Which Form 1023 Should You Use?


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Prepare Your Own 501(c)(3) Application

By Sandy Deja © 2016 400 pages ISBN 978-0-9815280-9-0

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[If you already know your organization is not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ, you can skip this page.]


The IRS offers two different 501(c)(3) applications.  Although all 501(c)(3) applicants are permitted to use the long form (1023), most would prefer to use the "Streamlined" Form, 1023-EZ, because it is only 2½ pages long, and does not require attachments. 

The first step in choosing which form to file is determining whether your organization is eligible to use Form 1023-EZ. 

Generally, in order to use Form 1023-EZ applicants must have gross receipts less than $50,000 and assets less than $250,000.  
More than 20 types of organizations are ineligible to file the EZ, even if they meet these size requirements.  In addition to financial considerations, history, activities and foundation status can all render an organization ineligible.  

History

  • organizations other than corporations, unincorporated associations or trusts are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • successors to for-profit entities are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • organizations that have been revoked (other than through Auto-Revocation) are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • successors to organizations that have been revoked (other than through Auto-Revocation) are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • organizations formed under the laws of a foreign country or using a foreign mailing address are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • successors to, and entities controlled by, terrorist organizations are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ


 Activities

  • cooperative hospital services organizations are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • cooperative service organizations of operating educational organizations are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • qualified charitable risk pools are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • credit counseling service organizations are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • organizations that invest 5% or more of total assets in non-publicly traded securities may not file Form 1023-EZ
  • organizations that participate (or intend to participate) in partnerships with non-501(c)(3)s are not eligible to file Form1023-EZ
  • organizations that sell (or intend to sell) carbon credits or carbon offsets are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • health maintenance organizations are not eligible to file form 1023-EZ
  • accountable care organizations are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • donor advised funds are not eligible to file form 1023-EZ
  • testing for public safety organizations are not eligible to file form 1023-EZ
  • private operating foundations are not eligible to file form 1023-EZ
  • automatically revoked organizations seeking retroactive reinstatement based on reasonable cause for the failures to file Form 990 are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ


Foundation status

  • churches are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • schools are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • hospitals are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • 509(a)(3) supporting organizations are not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ
  • testing for public safety organizations are not eligible to file form 1023-EZ


 The complete Eligibility List starts on page 11 of the
1023-EZ instructions.  The eligibility list is an interactive form.  If you check "yes" to one of the questions, you receive a message saying that your organization is not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ, and must file the long-form.  The message also says that the checklist has been "locked."  Unchecking the yes box unlocks the checklist.

Organizations eligible to file Form 1023-EZ might decide to use the long-form 1023 for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. In order to file Form 1023-EZ, an organization must have access to a computer and the internet.  The IRS will reject any Form 1023-EZ submitted on paper.
  2. An organization may not request expedited handling of a Form 1023-EZ.
  3. Form 1023-EZ does not provide a way for an organization to alert the IRS to an alternate name or names.   The long-form 1023 allows applicants to explain alternate names in the Part IV Narrative.  (The organization will have an opportunity to mention alternate names later, when filing the annual Form 990-N.) 
  4. Form 1023-EZ provides a very limited opportunity to explain the applicant's activities.  EZ-eligible organizations must decide whether 250 characters is enough.
  5. Form 1023-EZ does not provide a way for an applicant to claim an exception to the requirement to file the 990 annual information return.  EZ-eligible organizations that believe they qualify for a filing exception may want to file the long-form 1023.  (An alternative would be to file IRS Form 8940, Request for Miscellaneous Determination after 501(c)(3) status is approved.  The fee for Form 8940 is currently $400.  Information about Form 8940 on this website.)
  6. An organization seeking 501(c)(3) status must file its application within 27 months of the end of the month in which the organization was formed.  There are exceptions to the 27 month filing deadline, but Form 1023-EZ does not provide a way for an applicant to claim one of these exceptions.  Organizations that believe one of the exceptions applies may want to file the long-form 1023, and use Form 1023, Schedule E, to claim the exception.  (The 1023-EZ instructions offer another option: wait until the IRS issues a determination letter, and then send a letter claiming an exception to the 27 month rule to: Internal Revenue Service, Exempt Organizations Determinations, Room 4024,  P. O. Box 2508, Cincinnati, Ohio  45201.)
  7. An organization seeking 501(c)(3) status must file its application within 27 months of the end of the month in which the organization was formed.  It is possible to ask for an extension to this deadline, but Form 1023-EZ does not provide a way to do so.  Organizations that wish to extend the 27 month deadline may want to file the long-form 1023, and use Form 1023, Schedule E, to apply for this extension.
  8. An organization seeking 501(c)(3) status must file its application within 27 months of the end of the month in which the organization was formed.  Form 1023, Schedule E, provides a way for tardy organizations to claim 501(c)(4) status for prior periods.  Organizations interested in obtaining exemption under 501(c)(4) under these circumstances may want to file the long-form 1023.  (It is not yet clear how the new Section 506 notice requirements for 501(c)(4) organizations will affect this option.)
  9. Form 1023-EZ allows applicants seeking reinstatement of exempt status after automatic revocation only two options: streamlined retroactive reinstatement and "postmark-only" reinstatement.  Revenue Procedure 2014-11 provides for another type of retroactive reinstatement that may apply to some EZ-eligible organizations - showing "reasonable cause" for all three of the missed returns that led to automatic revocation.  This option is only available if an organization files Form 1023, the long-form 501(c)(3) application.
  10. Some grantor organizations are uncomfortable with the lack of detailed information in Form 1023-EZ.  EZ-eligible organizations may want to check with potential grantors to make sure that using the streamlined application will not hurt their chances of obtaining a grant.


​​(This discussion of eligibility requirements was current as of early 2016.  Because these eligibility requirements are not set forth in the Internal Revenue Code, the IRS can change them, and almost certainly will.  At the very least, the gross receipts and assets limits will be increased at some time in the future to allow for inflation.  It is also possible that other eligibility categories will be added or removed as IRS enforcement priorities shift.)

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