A Kinder, Gentler IRS
There's a branch of the IRS (the Tax Exempt & Government Entities Division) that deals almost exclusively with exempt organizations, and I often obtain excellent information from the agents in that division, who are generally knowledgeable, helpful and courteous!
For live IRS information and problem solving
Call 877-829-5500. Be sure to have your organization's tax ID # (EIN) handy.
The IRS Web site devoted to exempt organizations is filled with useful information and starts here.
To check your exempt status
As of January 2019, the IRS has a new, more comprehensive search engine for exempt organizations. It's called "Tax Exempt Organization Search" and is available by clicking here.
You can also visit GuideStar.org -- a tremendous resource for the nonprofit sector -- to check up on your organization.
Replacement IRS Letter
If you've lost your Letter of Determination (tax exemption) or need a new one, download and print Form 4506b and fax it to 855-204-6184. (You may also email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.) It may take them 6 months to respond, unfortunately.
If you've changed your corporate name through an amendment of your Articles of Incorporation and would like to receive an updated Letter of Determination under your new corporate name, you need to request an "Affirmation Letter." More info is available here and here.
(As mentioned above, this could take 6 months or more.)
Be sure to enclose a copy of your amendment (changing your corporate name) STAMPED by the Secretary of State.
Don't forget to file Form 990 every year, even if your organization is inactive or received no income.
Click here to see which Form 990 your organization is required to file. The "e-Postcard" (Form 990-N) began in 2008. If your total revenue (from all sources) is $50K or less per year (averaged over 3 years), you qualify to file Form 990-N.
Most tax-exempt organizations are required to file an annual return or notice with the Internal Revenue Service. Section 6033(j) of the Internal Revenue Code automatically revokes the exemption of any organization that fails to satisfy its filing requirement for three consecutive years. The automatic revocation of exemption is effective as of the due date of the third required annual filing or notice.
If you've lost your tax-exempt status with the IRS, check out this site. It's written by Sandy Deja, a long-time former IRS agent and one of the most knowledgeable people you'll find in the nonprofit sector.
And if you find any of this bewildering or overwhelming, contact us for guidance.