The Application Packet
The application packet must include everything the IRS expects to see. Each item should be clearly marked with the organization's name, mailing address, and Employer Identification Number. Do not send loose clippings or half-completed forms. The following is the basic list of what you need to include. Use it as a reference or as a checklist. Not all these forms will be required for every organization, but they are included here for reference purposes only.
An envelope containing the check for the user fee. Make your check out to “United States Treasury” for either $300 or $750.
The two-page Form 1023 Checklist, found at the end of Form 1023. You need to tell the IRS which Form 1023 schedules you are filing as well as where to find your organization's purpose and dissolution clauses.
Form 2848, Power of Attorney. If your organization is represented by a tax professional, this form identifies him and states your relationship.
Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization. Fill out this form if you want the IRS to discuss your application with a third party. Most groups will never file this form, so you probably do not have to worry about it.
Expedite Request. If you are asking the IRS to expedite review of your application, you can submit this request in the form of a letter. Ask an outside expert to review this letter to ensure it meets your needs and those of the IRS.
Articles of Organization. If you are incorporated, this should be the articles of incorporation. Otherwise, submit your constitution, articles of association, or other governing document. By-laws alone are not enough. Articles of incorporation should clearly show that they have been filed with the proper state authority. The IRS usually asks for two signatures on the governing instrument of an unincorporated association.
By-laws. These should be signed and dated.
Form 5768. Fill out this form if the organization has decided to make expenditures to influence legislation under section 501(h) of the Internal Revenue Code. This is an area most start-up nonprofits should avoid, but it is included in the checklist in case you need it.
Actual financial data, including income statement(s) and a recent balance sheet, if the organization has had any financial activity.
A two-year projected budget, showing both expected sources of income and anticipated expenses. Sometimes the IRS asks for a projected budget even when the applicant can provide a full year of actual financial data.
Here are a few other items you should include in your packet:
Printed materials describing the history of the organization, its activities, and its plans for the future (e.g., brochures, pamphlets, descriptive literature, published materials).
Sample copies of your organization's newsletter if you publish one.
Any materials prepared for members, membership application forms, promotional materials, sample membership certificates or identification cards, sample copies of member-only publications, and so on.
Copies of newspaper clippings, transcripts of interviews, and so on.
Any documentation you have regarding grant monies (i.e., grant applications, grant contracts, or correspondence between your organization and the grantor organization).
A schedule of events, showing where and when your organization has held informational or other events during the last twelve months; include approximate attendance figures.
If you have a scholarship or grant program, a description of how potential applicants will hear about your program.
Letters between your organization and potential members or board members, letters of appreciation from groups where you have made presentations or otherwise helped out, or even letters from public officials commenting on your efforts.
Advertisements, copies of contracts, rental agreements, leases, and loan agreements involving your organization.
Copies of federal, state, or local legislation, if any, regarding the creation or continued existence of your organization.
Resumes of board members and/or key employees.
Independent appraisals of assets the group is renting or purchasing.