How to Expedite a 501(c)(3)

By Mike Keenan

The Internal Revenue Service typically processes applications for recognition of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in the order received. In some cases, however, the IRS will consider a request for expedited handling. Situations that might warrant an expedited review include when a grant is pending subject to approval of 501(c)(3) status and loss of the grant will adversely affect the organization's ability to continue operations; when a newly created charity is providing disaster relief to victims; and when IRS errors have resulted in undue delays in sending a determination letter. Expedited handling of the application is always at the discretion of the IRS.

Step 1

Complete IRS Form 1023 to apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt recognition for your organization. A request for expedited handling requires additional correspondence and does not replace the Form 1023 application.

Step 2

Write a statement explaining the compelling reason for requesting expedited review of your 501(c)(3) application. One example of when the IRS agreed to expedite an application involved an organization formed to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti shortly after the disaster, and the organization was setting up a major fundraiser that would generate relief funds for the victims. The IRS also expedited review of an organization that had been promised a grant amounting to half of its annual receipts. A third request for expedited handling that was approved involved a substance abuse center that had been promised a grant to start operations; no other substance abuse facility served the area and the grant required 501(c)(3) status by a certain date. Not all requests for expedited review are granted. A request by an organization that was formed to find housing for individuals left homeless by a hurricane was denied because it was not providing services in the area where the disaster actually occurred. Similarly, an organization that requested expedited review so it could apply for funds from the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development was denied because no promise of funds was conditioned on approval by a certain date.

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Step 3

Mail your request for expedited review and the explanation with your Form 1023 application. If you’ve already mailed your application, you can mail the request separately. For standard mail, address your correspondence to Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 2508, Room 4024, Cincinnati OH 45201. Send Express Mail submissions to Internal Revenue Service, 550 Main Street, Room 4024, Cincinnati OH 45202. Requests can also be faxed to 513-263-4330.

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