There is nothing like the panic of needing copies of an important form but not being able to find it. It is important to keep copies of your 501(c)(3) form on hand for grant applications, audits, donor questions and good record keeping. If you have lost your application form or IRS determination letter, all is not lost. It is possible to recover these documents and restore your records. Once you receive replacement copies, consider putting a copy in a safe deposit box, keeping one with your accountant and mailing a copy to every member of your board for safekeeping.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
You can obtain replacement copies of your 501(c)(3) form through the IRS website or by using Form 4506-A.
Find a Copy Online
Some smaller nonprofit organizations file for 501(c)(3) status using the 1023 EZ form on the Pay.gov website for a lower filing fee and faster turnaround fee. When you file through their website, they keep a copy of your tax exempt form on your account so that you can access and print it at any time. In order to access a copy of your original 1023 EZ form, you will need to log in to your account, click on "My Account" in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and then click on "My Forms." This page will list any forms submitted through your account. Look for a line that says, "Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3)." On that line, you will be able to click on "View PDF," save the file to your computer and then print a copy of your form for your records.
Request a Copy By Mail
If you filed the 1024 or 1023 form by mail instead of through the Pay.gov website, then you will need to contact the IRS in order to receive a copy of your forms and attachments through the mail. Form 4506-A is necessary for this request. To fill out the requested information, you will need to know the nonprofit organization's name, address and EIN number. If you do not have this information, you can find it using the IRS tax exempt organization search page, where you can search by organization name, EIN number or location. You will also need to provide your own name, address, contact information and the reason you are seeking a copy of your forms. You will mail your completed 4506-A form to the IRS Correspondence Unit in Cincinnati, OH. Once they receive your completed form, they will review it and mail the requested information and forms to you.
Contact Others for a Copy
Many times, people share copies of their nonprofit application forms with others as they go through the preparation process. Check with any lawyers, board members, mentors or friends who helped you complete your forms prior to filing them. If you use an accountant or enrolled agent to help you file taxes or manage your nonprofit's money, they should also have a copy of all your important documents on file. Some nonprofit organizations maintain a safe deposit box at the bank that holds additional copies of forms, documents and confidential information. Look through files at your office or ask local nonprofits with whom you collaborate if they have a copy of your forms in their files.
IRS Determination Letter
Once the IRS reviews your 1023, 1023 EZ or 1024 application for tax exempt status, they make a determination to approve your application, deny your application or ask for more information before making a decision. Once an application is approved, they send an official tax exempt letter to your nonprofit organization's listed mailing address. If you lose this form and need an additional copy, you can print one from the IRS tax exempt organization search page. Simply enter your organization's name, EIN or location and click on your listing. At the top of the page, click on the "Determination Letter" heading in order to save the file to your computer and print a copy for your records.