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July 18, 2014

IRS Short Form for Charities Could Help Nonprofit Newsrooms

The streamlined application form for 501(c)(3) status the Internal Revenue Service introduced this month could be a boon for nonprofit journalism organizations, which have faced long waits for tax-exempt designations, Nieman Journalism Lab writes.

Groups with an annual income of less than $50,000 and assets of less than $250,000 are eligible to use the three-page 1023-EZ. The IRS introduced the form July 1 as part of an effort to reduce a backlog of more than 60,000 applications for nonprofit status. Previously all applicants had to fill out, and the IRS had to review, a 26-page form.

As the nonprofit news sector has expended, some start-ups have waited well over a year for IRS approval; in one notable case, the San Francisco Public Press's application was pending for 32 months. "If I was someone starting from scratch right now, I would certainly be looking at [the short form]. It's a lot easier than it has been," said Brant Houston, chairman of the board of the Investigative News Network, which includes about 100 nonprofit journalism groups.