You may have glossed over it– as so many people do– but whether you apply for tax exemption using the new Form 1023-EZ or the older, standard Form 1023, you are required to make your application and all related documents available for public inspection. The IRS will make copies available to anyone who requests them, including your annual reports.
If you want to know what you are required to do, or what rights the public has, or will have, to your exempt organization’s financial and operating reports, go to www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Exempt-OrganizationPublic-Disclosure-and-Availability-Requirements.
And by the way, you should keep in mind that 501(c)(3) tax exemption is first and foremost a matter of federal law. You may also be required to secure state tax exemption or to register with one or more states to solicit contributions. A great resource in this connection is The National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) website. You’ll find a bunch of links there to various state agencies that can help you make sure you are compliant at every level. Check it out at www.nasconet.org.