Before you flood the
place with requests, please read the last question
at the bottom of this post. IT would be best, IMO,
for only one person do make this request. Ah, there
are always loopholes.
re. Complying with requests for
What type of organization does this apply
It applies to every organization that has
received an exempt determination from the IRS under
any section of 501(c) or 501(d).
This includes churches that have established
their exempt status. Even though they do not have
to file Form 990 and thus do not have to make these
forms available for inspection, they must still
make the Form 1023 available for inspection, and
make copies available if requested. It also applies
to non-exempt private foundations and nonexempt
charitable trusts described in Section 4947(a) that
are subject to Section 6033 information reporting
Although the April, 1999 regulations putting
these requirements into effect specifically exclude
private foundations, the final regulations for
private foundations were issued in January of 2000,
effective March 13. In addition, the requirement
that 3 years of 990-PF's must be furnished begins
with the 2000 filing.
Where can someone come to inspect/get copies
of the documents?
What if we have more than one office?
What if we do not have a regular
The documents must be made available for
inspection at the organization's principal office,
and (if the organization has more than one office)
any regional or district offices, during regular
business hours. A regional or district office is
any office that has either full or part-time paid
employees, whose aggregate number of weekly working
hours is normally at least 120 (e.g. three full
time employees or their part-time equivalents).
However a site is not a regional ordistrict office
if the only services provided are to further the
exempt purposes of the organization (such as a day
care center, clinic, etc.) and the site does not
serve as an office for management staff, other than
those involved solely in managing the exempt
function activities at the site.
An organization with regional or district
offices has 30 days from the date its informational
return is filed with the IRS to provide copies to
the regional or district offices.
The organization may have a representative in
the room during the inspection. However, the person
inspecting must be allowed to take notes freely,
and if he/she has brought along a copier, to copy
If the organization does not have a permanent
office, or has limited office hours, it may comply
with the public inspection requirements by making
the documents available for inspection at a
reasonable location, within a reasonable time
period after receiving the request (within 2
weeks), and at a reasonable time of day. It may
copies of the requested documents in lieu of
allowing an inspection, but may not charge the
requester unless he/she consents to pay the
How much can we charge if they want
The organization can charge a reasonable fee,
which the regulations define as no more than the
fee charged by the IRS for providing copies. This
currently is $1.00 for the first page, and $.15 for
each additional page. In addition, it may charge
the actual postage costs incurred in providing the
The organization may require the individual to
pay the fee before providing the copies. If payment
is required before the copies are provided and the
organization receives a written request, it must
advise them of the amount due within seven (7) days
from the date of receipt of the initial request.
The organization must also respond to any questions
from potential requesters concerning the fees for
copying and postage of each document, with and
without attachments, so that payment may be
included with the request.
If prepayment is not required, consent from the
requester must be obtained before the copies are
provided if the charge for copying and postage will
The organization must accept any payment made by
cash or money order; it may accept payment in
another form. If the request is made in writing, an
option to pay either by personal check or by credit
card (one or the other) must be provided.
If the requester is advised as to what the fee
is and they do not pay the fee within 30 days, or
if they pay by check and the check does not clear,
you may disregard the request.
Note: If the individual brings a copier to the
inspection, he/she must be allowed to make copies
directly, at no charge.
How soon do we need to provide copies of the
Requests Made In Person. If the request is made
in person at the principal, regional or district
offices during regular business hours, copies of
the documents should be provided on the day the
request is made.
If there are unusual circumstances where
fulfilling the request will place an unreasonable
burden on the organization, copies must be provided
no later than the next business day after the
unusual circumstances cease to exist, or the fifth
business day after the request, whichever occurs
first. Unusual circumstances would include such
occurrences as receipt of requests that exceed the
organization's daily capacity to make copies,
requests received shortly before the end of the
business day that involve substantial copying, or
requests received on a day that the managerial
staff capable of fulfilling the request are
involved in a special assignment.
A local agent may be retained to process
requests made in person for copies of the
documents. However, the agentmust be located within
reasonable proximity of the office, the name,
address and telephone number must be immediately
provided to the requester, and the agent must
timely furnish the copies.
Requests Made In Writing. An organization
receiving a written request for a copy of its
application or annual report(s) shall mail each
copy within 30 days of receiving the request.
However, if payment is required in advance, it must
mail the copy within 30 days from the date it
receives payment, as long as it has notified the
requestor, within 7 days from the date it received
the initial request, of its prepayment policy and
the amount due.
If the requester consents, the document may be
furnished by electronic mail; it will be considered
to be furnished on the date the document is
A local agent may be retained to process written
requests for copies. However, the agent is bound by
the terms and conditions (including deadlines) that
apply to the organization itself.
Exactly what part of the Exemption
Application can someone inspect/ obtain
The application for tax exemption must include
any prescribed form (e.g. Form 1023 or Form 1024),
all documents and statements filed as a part of the
application or as part of any follow-up
correspondence in support of the application, and
any letters or documents issued by the IRS in
regard to the application, including additional
questions about the application.
If there is no prescribed form (for example,
with an application for a group exemption), the
application includes the application letter, copy
of the articles of incorporation, bylaws, financial
statements, statements describing the organization,
its purpose and its activities, and statements
showing the sources of the organization's income
and the disposition thereof, and any other
documents required by the IRS or submitted in
support of the application.
Note that if an application is still pending
with the IRS and an exempt status is not yet
determined, nothing need be furnished. In addition,
if there is a part of the application that the IRS
is required to withhold from public inspection, the
organization need not make that part of the
We don't know where our Exemption Application
is. What do we do?
If the application had been filed before July
15, 1987, and the organization did not have a copy
of the application on July 15, 1987, it does not
have to be made available.
However, if the application was filed on or
after July 15, 1987, or if the organization had a
copy available on that date, you must find the
What Informational Returns have to be
What must be provided as part of the
An exact copy, as filed with the IRS, of any
federal informational return (Forms 990, 990-EZ,
990-PF, 990-BL, and (Form 1065) must be made
available, including all schedules, attachments and
supporting documents. This includes any amended
Except for private foundations, you may delete
the name and address of any contributor (make sure
they are on a separate schedule, easily redacted,
so that the IRS does not inadvertently release this
information). You also do not have to make
available form 990-T (unrelated business taxable
income), Schedule A of Form 990-BL, Schedule K-1 of
Form 1065, Form 1120-POL, or 990-PF.
Each form must be made available for a period of
three (3) years from the later of the date the
return is required to be filed (plus extensions),
or the date it is actually filed. Any amended
return also must be made available for three (3)
years from the date it is filed with the IRS.
What if the requester only wants part of the
If the requester clearly identifies the
requested part or schedule, then that part must be
furnished. The organization may not charge the
requester for the entire Form 990 if only Schedule
A is requested.
What if I think there is a harassment
campaign against my organization?
If the IRS district director for the key
district in which your organization's principal
office is located determines that your organization
is the subject of a harassment campaign (requests
are part of an effort to disrupt the operations of
your organization, rather than to collect
information), and that compliance with these
requests are not in the public interest, you are
not required to provide copies. Facts supporting
the finding of a harassment campaign would include
a sudden increase in the number of requests, an
extraordinary number of requests made through form
letters or similarly worded correspondence,
requests that contain language hostile to the
organization, evidence that the organization has
already provided the requested documents, and the
like. If you believe that you may be the target of
a harassment campaign, you should contact our
office so we can assist you in determining what
steps you may want to take, which may include
applying for a determination that you are the
subject of a harassment campaign, and suspending
It would be appropriate to keep a log of all
requests, whether in person or written, so that if
a harassment campaign is instituted against your
organization, you will have evidence of the type
and number of requests normally being received, and
documentation of the increased burden.
You may disregard any request for copies of
all or part of any document beyond two received
within a 30 day period, or four received within a
one year period, from the same individual or the
same address, without a determination of harassment
from the district director.
for Complying to Requests ]