Applying for 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status Goes Entirely Online

Through 2019, the IRS revealed that it was working to bring as much tax-exempt organization submissions to the IRS online to use electronic data to protect against fraud and other misuse, and to streamline the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status process.  In late 2019, the average time for a paper 1023 application (not the 1023-EZ, which is only for certain, usually smaller applicants) was 175 days from IRS receipt.  Such a wait time was hard on those organizations needing their determination letter quickly.  And so the IRS bulked up its tax-exempt staff and began to build an interactive application to help organizations skip questions irrelevant to them and their plans, and focus on questions that are relevant. Overall, this operational change is great news for new organizations seeking 501(c)(3) status.  

On January 31, 2020, the IRS release the online 1023 application.  The new, online application is substantially similar to the current paper 1023 application, but the online process should reduce confusion and questions to the IRS about obtaining tax-exempt status. 

Importantly, the IRS did indicate that it will accept paper form 1023 applications through April 30, 2020. So, if you have one half completed, be sure to submit it by then!!

If you’d like help with your 1023 application, or have any other tax-exempt or nonprofit law questions, feel free to reach out:

The above article is for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as specific legal advice.  This article, or using the form, does not in any way form an attorney-client relationship.  If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Tara M. Vitale at

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