Can I Do the 501c3 Myself?
In a day of self-help books, videos, and DVDs, this is a fair question. If your transmission has a problem, maybe you can take it apart and fix it. Or, more likely, you’re better off going to a professional.
1. You must have a nonprofit corporation before you get can get 501c3 status. So filing your Articles of Incorporation (may be called something different in your state) is the first step. Do that yourself? Two-thirds of our clients who come to us already incorporated didn’t do it right. Well, they did it right as far as their state was concerned, but they didn’t satisfy the IRS requirements. So those Articles of Incorporation have to be amended. That means delay and expense. We’ve even had Articles filed by attorneys that weren’t done correctly because they were not familiar with the IRS requirements. Do yourself a favor and let us file your Articles—most states $200 plus the state filing fee, including Bylaws and the other required corporate documents.
2. Next step, the Form 1023 and filing for 501c3 status with the IRS. Can you do this yourself? Two answers here.
(a) Occasionally, we get a call from someone who says, “Can you help me with filling out the form?” As if filling out the form is the main thing. It’s not the main thing. They don’t understand that it has little do with just “filling out the form” (difficult and complex as that is) and everything to do with how you construct your nonprofit for now and for the future. Your dream for your nonprofit goes far beyond a form, and that’s where our more than 30 years of legal experience analyzing nonprofits will help you. Your nonprofit dream deserves to be structured correctly, and we want to make sure it is. Our process and personal presence leads you through the questionnaires and helps you construct your nonprofit for success with the IRS and also for success in the real world, both now and for the future.
What does the IRS say about “filling out the form.” The IRS says, and we quote, “The time needed to complete and file these forms will vary depending on individual circumstances. The estimated average times are:”
Form 1023: 105 hours, 3 minutes.
Form 1023 Schedule A: 10 hours, 24 minutes
Form 1023 Schedule B: 15 hours, 57 minutes
Form 1023 Schedule C: 11 hours, 49 minutes
Form 1023 Schedule D: 11 hours, 23 minutes
Form 1023 Schedule E: 18 hours: 6 minutes
Form 1023 Schedule F: 12 hours, 3 minutes
Form 1023 Schedule G: 7 hours
Form 1023 Schedule H: 9 hours, 26 minutes
(Our fee for preparing the above Schedules is $200 except for Schedule A Church which is at no charge.)
Also, we might mention the complex form is 30 pages long, and there are 38 pages of complex instructions.
(b) So let’s say you decide you have the time to “fill out the form.” Will you fill it out correctly? Excellent question that I liken to, “Can I fix the automatic transmission on my car?” There are car repair manuals and even DVD’s to help you. (Maybe you picked up a book on how to construct your nonprofit or fill out “the 1023 form.”) Put on your overalls, get out in your garage, and tear down your transmission. It couldn’t be that difficult, right? Of course, if you make a mistake (even the best of directions may be difficult to understand) and hear a loud clanking of gears and an awful grinding noise on a rainy night, you may wish you had gone to a transmission specialist. The same with those who think it can’t be too difficult to “fill out a form.”
It has been said that 1/3 of self-filers give up out of sheer frustration, and the chances of being approved by the IRS is less than half compared with those who have a professional prepare the application. Now, let’s say, you get the application off to the IRS all by yourself. Then, you hear back from the IRS. But instead of your Determination Letter, it’s a letter with lots of questions for you to answer. Many self-filers have no idea how to answer all the questions they get back from the IRS and give up in frustration. With our service, if you should get questions back from the IRS (and you may because if the IRS asked all the questions on the form, the form would be 100 pages long), you need not worry. We’ll make sure all the questions are answered correctly.
Nothing contained herein is to be construed as legal or accounting advice.