Use a commercial carrier with delivery confirmation or USPS certified mail or delivery confirmation
By getting delivery confirmation, you will know immediately when the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") has received your application.
If you have already mailed or delivered the Application for Recognition of Exemption (IRS Form 1023) (hereinafter "Application"), write down the date on which you mailed the Application and then call the IRS (see Step 4 below) to get verbal confirmation of the IRS's receipt of the application, particularly if you did not receive a letter from the IRS confirming receipt of the Application (See Step 2).
Look for the Confirmation of Receipt Letter
The IRS instructions state that within 21 days of filing the application for recognition of exemption Form 1023 (hereinafter "Application"), the IRS will send a letter confirming receipt of the Application. If you have designated a power of attorney for the Application, the IRS will mail this letter to the address listed on the Application and mail a copy to the designated power of attorney.
If you do not receive the letter, the IRS cannot regenerate the letter. Thus, I strongly recommend using delivery confirmation (see step 1) to evidence the fact that you delivered the application. I also recommend making copies of everything you submit to the IRS.
Check the Progress of the IRS in Processing Exemption Applications
Through the IRS website (www.irs.gov), you can determine the IRS's progress on applications generally. On the IRS website, enter the phrase "where is my exemption application?" into the search field. In the results list, look for the link titled "Where is my exemption application?" Click on the link and it takes you to a page that indicates application from which month are being assigned to agents. For example, in January 2009, the website reports that applications received in July 2008 are being assigned to agents. It is reasonable to expect a long delay before your Application is even assigned to an agent. Once the IRS assigns an agent, that agent will begin to review your Application.
Check the Status of Your Application
To check the status of your individual Application, you may call IRS Exempt organization customer account services. The number is (877)829-5500. When you call, be prepared to provide the tax identification of the exempt organization for which the Application was submitted (hereinafter "the Organization"), the mailing address of the Organization, and your first and last name. The IRS will only speak with the officers of the Organization and the designated power of attorney with a Form 2848 Power of Attorney on file with the IRS. If you are an officer of the Organization, but your name was not listed in the Application (e.g. you were elected an officer after the Application was sent), you may need to deliver paperwork evidencing your appointment as an officer before the IRS will speak with you regarding the Application.
Promptly Respond to All Communication from the IRS
The IRS agent who reviews the file may find that information is missing from your Application or may want to know more details about your Organization. Therefore, you may receive written communication from the IRS agent requesting additional information before your Application will be granted. Typically, you have a limited time window within which you must respond to these requests for information. If you fail to meet the deadline, the IRS will reject your Application, therefore you should respond in a timely manner. In addition, because the agents have a large workload, you should respond as quickly as possible to ensure that your Application is ready for review when the agent reviews your Application.
Additional resources provided by the author
The IRS website is a helpful resource. In addition, the instructions for the Form 1023, which are available at the IRS website, are also helpful. You may also wish to engage a CPA or an attorney to assist you in dealing with the Internal Revenue Service.