Welcome Progress: Improvements Made to IRS Application Status Page

Organizations that have been waiting awhile for word on their application for exempt status now finally may have a better idea of where they stand. The IRS has made improvements to the website that shows the status of pending applications—and will update that page on the first Thursday of each month.

We’ve blogged before on the extreme processing backlog and related issues that organizations have been facing, as well as fiscal sponsorship options that some organizations may pursue while they wait for their determination letter. However, until fairly recently, organizations that checked in on the IRS website were left scratching their head as to how much longer the wait would be; it had shown for many months that the IRS was processing applications received in April 2012.

Now, the page has been updated to give a better reflection of what applicants can expect. It shows that the average date of pending applications is June 2013—so it is no longer showing a year-plus backlog! It also provides more clarity as to how the IRS sorts application, and what the overall timeline looks like :

  • All applicants should expect to get a notice acknowledging receipt of an application within about 14 days;
  • Applications that can be approved immediately, or those that need minor additional information, will receive a determination letter or request for additional information within about 90 days of the date of the acknowledgement notice; and
  • Applications that require development will be assigned to an agent within about 180 days of the date of additional contact (where the IRS typically sends a notice that the application will need to be assigned to an agent for additional review).

So all in all, the application process still is  expected to take the better part of a year for many organizations—typically those with activities or relationships that may require additional questions. And some more complicated applications may still take longer, of course. But commitment to keep the website updated, and organizations out of the dark about where they stand, is a huge step forward in this area.

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