Here are some procedures from IRS Publication 557:
Oral requests for recognition of exemption will not be considered by the IRS. Your application for tax-exempt status must be in writing using the appropriate forms as discussed below.
Most organizations seeking recognition of exemption from federal income tax must use specific application forms prescribed by the IRS. Two forms currently required by the IRS are Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and Form 1024, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(a). For information about how to obtain the latest revision, see chapter 5.
Forms 1023 and 1024 contain instructions and checklists to help you provide the information required to process your application. Incomplete applications will not be processed.
Some organizations do not have to use specific application forms. The application your organization must use is specified in the chapter in this publication dealing with your kind of organization. It is also shown in the Organization Reference Chart.
When no specific application form is prescribed for your organization, application for exemption is by letter to the IRS. Send the application to the appropriate address shown on Form 8718, User Fee for Exempt Organization Determination Letter Request. The letter must be signed by an authorized individual such as an officer of the organization or a person authorized by a power of attorney. (See Power of attorney under Miscellaneous Procedures, later.) Send the power of attorney with the application letter when you file it. The letter should also contain the name and telephone number of the person to contact. The information described below under Required Inclusions must be sent with the letter.
User fee. The law requires the payment of a user fee for determination letter requests such as your application for recognition of tax-exempt status. You should use Form 8718 to figure the amount of your fee and to pay it. Your payment must accompany your request. The IRS will not process a request unless the fee has been paid.
To find the correct amounts for user fees and the length of time to process a request, call 1-877-829-5500 for assistance.
Every exempt organization must have an employer identification number (EIN), whether or not it has any employees.
If your organization does not have an EIN, your application for recognition of exemption should include a completed Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number.
Organizing documents. Each application for exemption must be accompanied by a conformed copy of your organization's Articles of Incorporation (and the Certificate of Incorporation, if available), Articles of Association, Trust Indenture, Constitution, or other enabling document. If the organization does not have an organizing document, it will not qualify for exempt status.
Bylaws. Bylaws alone are not organizing documents. However, if your organization has adopted bylaws, include a current copy. The bylaws need not be signed if submitted as an attachment.
If your organization's name has been officially changed by an amendment to your organizing instruments, you should also attach a conformed copy of that amendment to your application.
Conformed copy. A conformed copy is a copy that agrees with the original and all amendments to it. If the original document required a signature, the copy should either be signed by a principal officer or, if not signed, be accompanied by a written declaration signed by an authorized officer of the organization. With either option, the officer must certify that the document is a complete and accurate copy of the original. A certificate of incorporation should be approved and dated by an appropriate state official.
Every attachment should show your organization's name, address, and EIN. It should also state that it is an attachment to your application form and identify the part and line item number to which it applies.
Do not submit original documents because they become part of the IRS file and cannot be returned.
Description of activities. Your application must include a full description of the purposes and the activities of your organization. When describing the activities in which your organization expects to engage, you must include the standards, criteria, procedures, or other means that your organization adopted or planned for carrying out those activities.
To determine the information you need to provide, you should study the part of this publication that applies to your organization. The appropriate chapter will describe the purposes and activities that your organization must pursue, engage in, and include in your application in order to achieve exempt status.
Often your organization's articles of organization (or other organizing instruments) contain descriptions of your organization's purposes and activities.
Financial data. You must include in your application financial statements showing your receipts and expenditures for the current year and the 3 preceding years (or for the number of years your organization was in existence, if less than 4 years). For each accounting period, you must describe the sources of your receipts and the nature of your expenditures. You must also include a balance sheet for the current year.
If you have not yet begun operations, or have operated for less than 1 year, a proposed budget for 2 full accounting periods and a current statement of assets and liabilities will be acceptable.
Other information. The IRS may require you to provide additional information necessary to clarify the nature of your organization. Some examples are:
Representative copies of advertising placed,
Copies of publications, such as magazines,
Distributed written material used for expressing views on proposed legislation, and
Copies of leases, contracts, or agreements into which your organization has entered.