You know that your new church plant falls under the IRS’ blanket 501c3 exemption, but you’ve run into several situations where you really need the 501c3 Determination Letter in writing.
Or maybe you’re just planning ahead and see the long-term advantages to sending in the application now, before your Grand Opening.
What’s the Problem?
The IRS Form 1023 can be daunting: 13 pages of questions covering every minutia about your church plant, many requiring extended essay answers. Once you’ve attached those and other supporting documents, it usually ends up being 40-50 pages of application that you mail off. This is the typical church planter’s nightmare.
What to Do
Break it down & take it a step at a time. Better yet, get someone who is detail-oriented on your team to help put the church plant 501c3 application together:
- Download and complete IRS Form 1023 (the 501c3 application)
- Attach your organizing document(s), like Articles of Incorporation; make sure it includes a purpose statement that satisfies IRS requirements, along with a dissolution clause (call it Attachment A, for “Articles”)
- Attach your Bylaws (call it Attachment B, for “Bylaws”)
- Many of the questions on the form itself require essay answers, so attach those (call it Attachment C, for “Continuation”)
- Attach the senior pastor’s resumé (call it Attachment D, for “Dang, the alphabet scheme doesn’t work on this one”)
- Attach examples of marketing pieces, bulletins, etc. that substantiate that you’re a church who has made itself known to the public (call it Attachment E, for “Examples”)
- Attach a copy of your facility lease or agreement (call it Attachment F, for “Facility”)
- Make sure the church’s EIN is on every page that is submitted, in case it gets separated from the rest of the app
- Assemble everything in the order above, then put it in a large envelope along with a check for $850 to the US Treasury (do NOT staple the check or otherwise attach it; just stick it in there)
- Mail the whole shebang to:
Internal Revenue Service
PO Box 12192
Covington, KY 41012-0192
There will be extra postage required. And you’ll probably want to pay for tracking.
Check the IRS Website for current processing times.
Bonus: Tips for Filling out the IRS 1023
- Use churchy language – this is your chance to pull out all the theological words that would impress your seminary professors
- Don’t mention financial training or classes – even if you host a Financial Peace University class, surely that’s not the major focus of your ministry. And I’ve seen on several occasions the IRS reply with “we think you might actually be a credit counseling agency.” Seriously.
- Answer their questions truthfully but succinctly; don’t offer any extra, non-essential information as it will surely prompt them to ask questions, slowing your approval