The forms to file for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status are available at IRS.gov, states the Internal Revenue Service. Applicants complete Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code, or a simplified application, Form 1023-EZ. Interactive and accessible versions of Form 1023 are also available.
The instructions for Form 1023-EZ contain a worksheet that enables applicants to find out whether they qualify to file Form 1023-EZ rather than the traditional application, explains the IRS. Except for certain entities such as churches, the IRS generally does not treat organizations as tax-exempt unless they apply for the status. Publication 1771, on charitable contributions and disclosure requirements, and Publication 1828, a church and religious organization tax guide, may be helpful for organizations seeking status approval.