A legal audit is an overview of an organization’s non-financial compliance, governance and risk management issues. Organizations typically consider a legal audit when new management takes over and wants to ensure they are starting with a clean slate or the in the wake of a costly mistake.
The IRS has issued a new Form 1024-A, Application for Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code for an organization that chooses to apply for recognition of exempt status under Section 501(c)(4).
This very helpful Procedure sets forth streamlined processes organizations whose tax-exempt status has been automatically revoked for failure to file required annual returns or notices for 3 consecutive years to regain their tax-exempt status retroactive to the date of of revocation.
In general, 1023 exemption applications are processed in the order of receipt by the IRS, and expedited processing is available only if there is a compelling reason for it. There are reports that over 80% of requests for expedited processing are denied. If the organization needs its determination letter in a hurry because of circumstances that are within its control, the IRS is not likely to feel that the situation justifies expedited handling.
In its 2012 workplan, the IRS announced it will be paying closer attention to self-declared 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations. These groups include social welfare organizations; labor, agricultural and horticultural groups; as well as business leagues and chambers of commerce. Such organizations consider themselves to be tax-exempt because of the nature of their activities, but they have not filed for nor received a formal determination letter from the IRS. These groups are allowed to operate without an official IRS determination because, unlike the 27 month filing deadline for 501(c)(3) charities, they are not subject to a deadline for filing an application for exemption.
Charities should be aware that it is now illegal for anyone to receive compensation for preparing a return for someone else if they have not obtained a PTIN from the IRS first; a paid preparer who is not registered with the IRS is perpetrating fraud. If a charity chooses to work with an unregistered paid preparer, it opens itself up to IRS scrutiny and, possibly, denial of tax exemption plus additional attorneys’ fees to resolve any issues arising from the initial filing. Charities also need to keep in mind that the organization, regardless of whether or not a paid preparer was used, is ultimately responsible for the information in it’s exemption application.
Today, the IRS has made public the long awaited list of organizations that automatically lost their tax-exempt status due to their failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ or 990-N for three consecutive years. The IRS announced that it has revoked the tax-exempt status of approximately 275,000 such organizations, including over 4,000 in Arizona.