Starting a Nonprofit: Delays in Processing Federal Tax-Exemption Applications

The Internal Revenue Service recently published a notice "Where is My Exemption Application?" in response to the delay caused by a backlog of exemption applications.  The notice details the manner in which applications are processed:

The Process:  Upon receipt, exemption applications accompanied by the required user fee are initially separated into three groups: (1) those that can be processed immediately based on information submitted, (2) those that need minor additional information to be resolved, and (3) those that require additional development.

If your application falls in the first or second group, you will receive either your determination letter or a request for additional information, via phone, fax, or letter, within approximately 60 days of the date the application was submitted.   If your application falls within the third group, you will be contacted once your application has been assigned to an EO specialist.

The current waiting period for assignment of applications in third group is 9-10 months.

For those readers who are in the process of starting a nonprofit, an experienced EO (exempt organization) attorney or other professional may increase the likelihood that your exemption application doesn’t fall in the third group affected by the substantial delay.  However, there are no guarantees because "additional development" may be required due to the nature of your planned activities rather than how the application is prepared.  The EO professional may identify such issues in advance and suggest alterations to your planned activities to ensure that they meet the applicable legal requirements.