Form 1023-EZ will ask applicants for mission and activities

By Alistair M. Nevius

The 2018 instructions for Form 1023-EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, posted to the IRS website on Wednesday, include a new requirement that organizations describe to the IRS their mission or most significant activities. The 2018 form itself has not yet been posted.

Form 1023-EZ was introduced in 2014, and it provides an easier way for small organizations to apply for tax-exempt status, instead of having to fill out the longer Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The longer Form 1023 requires applicants to provide the IRS a detailed statement of the organization’s proposed activities. Until now, Form 1023-EZ has had no similar requirement.

However, in the 2018 instructions, filers are told on line 1 of part III to “[b]riefly describe your mission or most significant activities (limit 255 characters).” The instructions say that this should be a “brief summary of your tax-exempt 501(c)(3) purposes and the activities you engage in to further those purposes.”

The IRS warns that organizations should not speculate about future activities, but describe “either actual or planned mission or activities.” The instructions then provide examples of activities that have been determined to further (or not to further) tax-exempt Sec. 501(c)(3) purposes.

The 2017 instructions for the form contained no similar requirement, although part III asked the organization to check a box to attest that it is organized and operated exclusively to further one of the listed exempt purposes. (That requirement is retained in the 2018 instructions.)

The Form 1023-EZ streamlined application process is available for U.S. organizations with assets of $250,000 or less and annual gross receipts of $50,000 or less.

Alistair M. Nevius (Alistair.Nevius@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editor-in-chief, tax.

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