Requirements of Public Disclosure of Exempt Organization

Disclosure Requirements

An exempt organization is required by federal law to provide a copy of certain tax documents to any individual who may make a request, whether written or in person, for such documents.  In person requests may be made at the organization’s principle office, and any of the organization’s regional or district offices regularly maintained that consist of three or more employees.  The documents in general that may be requested include the organization’s application for tax exemption and its annual returns for a period of 3 years beginning on the date the return is required to be filed.  In person requests must be honored on the day the request is made.  Written requests (including fax or email) must be responded to within 30 days.

The law allows the organization to charge reasonable copying costs as well as the actual cost of postage prior to providing the copies.  However, the organization must provide reasonable notice of the approximate cost and acceptable forms of payment within 7 days of receiving such a request.  The organization’s acceptable forms of payment must include cash and money order for in-person requests, and certified check, money order, personal check or credit card for written requests.  Currently the Freedom of Information Act fee schedule provides a charge of $.20 per page that the IRS may charge for providing copies.  The organization may charge up to this amount as well.

An organization’s domicile state may have other documents included in their disclosure laws such as the organization’s founding documents.  Organizations are encouraged to check with the regulations that apply in their incorporating state for more specifics as these laws do vary by state.

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