New federal guidelines have been implemented for 501(c)(4) not-for-profits. The new guidelines require new 501(c)(4) organizations to file a “Form 8976” with the IRS to notify the IRS that the organization is operating as a 501(c)(4). Some existing organizations may also need to file the form.
A Google search of Form 8976 turns up plenty of articles about the form, but most of the articles just regurgitate the regulations without offering much in the way of helpful descriptions. I’ll try to offer some simple explanations here.
What is Form 8976?
This form is an electronic filing with the IRS that some 501(c)(4) organizations might need to file. The form (which does not exist in any pdf format that I can find) asks for the following information:
- Organization name
- Date organized
- State and country organized
- Filing year/month
- Statement of purpose of the organization
Who Must File?
Here are the rules for which 501(c)(4) organizations do and don’t need to file:
- Organizations existing before December 18, 2015, DO NOT need to file as long as they’ve been filing their annual 990
- Organizations formed between December 18, 2015, and July 8, 2016, DO NOT need to file as long as they either 1) filed for a determination letter using Form 1024, or 2) have filed a 990
- All other 501(c)(4) organizations must file the Form 8976
Does Form 8976 Replace Form 1024?
No. Form 1024 is the application form filed by not-for-profits, other than 501(c)(3) organizations*, to receive recognition from the IRS of tax-exempt status.
(*-A 501(c)(3) files Form 1023 instead of Form 1024.)
A 501(c)(4) is not required to file Form 1024, but some organizations choose to file Form 1024 anyway, so they can get the official determination letter from the IRS. A determination letter is usually required if the group is trying to get certain benefits such as exemptions from sales tax in their state.
At any rate, Form 8976 DOES NOT replace Form 1024, and Form 1024 DOES NOT replace Form 8976. They are separate things — Form 8976 is required to be filed by new 501(c)(4) organizations; Form 1024 is optional.
IRS Revenue Procedure 16-41 lays out the rules for filing Form 8976: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-16-41.pdf
This page on the IRS website gives more information about Form 8976: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/electronically-submit-your-form-8976-notice-of-intent-to-operate-under-section-501c4