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Tax-Exempt Status Revoked? How to Get it Back

How to get your revoked tax-exempt 501 status reinstated. This video is only for small tax-exempt organizations that normally have $50,000 or less in gross receipts each year and have just found out that their tax-exempt status was revoked because they did not file a Form 990 return for three consecutive years.

Annual gross receipts means ALL money or tangible non-cash items received during the year before subtracting any expenses.
I’m getting so many emails and phone calls from small tax-exempt organizations who want me to analyze their situation for free and tell them how to get their tax exempt status back.

I would love to be able to do this, but I simply cannot, so I’ve made this video (above) that should help a lot.

Some organizations do not understand how their tax-exempt status could have been revoked since they say they never applied for tax-exempt status to begin with.

The IRS makes it clear that it does not matter whether an organization was ever required to apply for tax-exempt status or not. If it was legally formed under state law as a tax-exempt organization and is claiming to be tax-exempt by holding itself out as tax-exempt to the public, then it is required to file certain annual returns. If the organization fails to file one of the following forms (990-N, 990-EZ, 990, or 990-PF) for three consecutive years, it loses its tax exempt status as of the original due date of the third consecutive un-filed return.

It used to be that organizations with less than $25,000 in annual gross receipts did not have to file ANY Form 990 return. This changed with the Pension Protection Act of 2006. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2006, failure to file the annual return (990-EZ, 990, or 990-PF) or notice (990-N) results in automatic revocation of tax-exempt status. This revocation happens by operation of law and does not require that the IRS do anything or send any notice to the organization.

If the organization never applied for recognition of tax-exempt status by filling Form 1023 or Form 1024, then the IRS will not send a notice that the organization was revoked (since the IRS does not know it is operating as tax-exempt).

If the organization did, at some time in the past, file Form 1023 or 1024, then the IRS will send a notice to the last known address of the organization informing it that its tax-exempt status was revoked and it will publicly list the organizations name and date of revocation on the list of revoked organizations.

The IRS maintains a list on its website of organizations whose tax-exempt status was revoked. It shows two important dates: the date that automatic revocation occurred, and the date the revocation was publicly posted on the IRS website.

You should carefully read IRS Revenue Procedure 2014-11. This contains the IRS’s instructions on how to get tax-exempt status back.

IRS Streamlined Process for Reinstatement

The easiest path to take, if you qualify, is what the IRS calls the “Streamlined Procedure.” This procedure is explained in the Revenue Procedure. For purposes of this article and the accompanying video, I’m assuming that your organization qualifies for the streamlined procedure and also qualifies to re-apply by using IRS Form 1023-EZ.

If the organization qualifies for the streamlined procedure and is re-applying for tax-exempt status within 15 months of the LATER of (1) the effective date of revocation, or (2) the date the revocation was posted on the IRS website, it does not have to explain why it did not file. The organization does not have to go back and file any delinquent returns for the three years it failed to file. (Remember, this video only applies to organizations that normally had $50,000 or less in annual gross receipts, rules are different for larger organizations).

If you are not re-applying within 15 months (as defined above) the procedure gets more complicated and you need help.

Important: If the organization never received a notice and does not appear on the IRS list of revoked organizations, it can re-apply “as-if” it is re-applying within the 15 month period.

IRS Form 1023-EZ Online Application

If the organization is a charitable organization applying under Section 501(c)(3), it is probably eligible to re-apply using IRS Form 1023-EZ rather than using the longer Form 1023.  This would not apply to other types of tax-exempt organizations that would be using Form 1024. There is no 1024-EZ.

To see if your organization is eligible to use Form 1023-EZ, read the instructions for that form and complete the eligibility worksheet.

Form 1023-EZ is an electronic form. There is no paper form. It must be prepared online at the website. It is submitted electronically along with a payment of $275.  You must first register for a free account at

After submitting the 1023-EZ, it takes at least a couple of weeks or a bit longer to receive your approval letter from the IRS.

Get More Help

If your organization is not eligible for the streamlined procedure and is not eligible to file Form 1023-EZ, you need more help than I can provide in one video. There are two ways I can help  you.

  1. You can sign up and take my online video course on how to get your tax-exempt status back after revocation, or
  2. You can book a half-hour phone consultation with me.

This can be a complicated affair. I don’t really recommend this as a do-it-yourself project, but it can be done with some good instruction. It is well worth investing a few dollars to get the right advice.

Form 990-N Electronic Postcard

Once your tax-exempt status is reinstated, you’ll have to electronically submit Form 990-N every year. Follow the IRS instructions to register and start filing Form 990-N online.