Participating in ICG's Group Exemption Letter (GEL)

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about participating in the ICG GEL.

Why should my chapter or SIG participate in the ICG GEL?

Chapters enjoy a number of advantages by participating in the ICG GEL:


How does my chapter or SIG start the process?

Chapters and SIGs who wish to be included in the ICG GEL Letter should submit the following items to the GEL administrator at (PDF format preferred).

  1. A letter stating that the chapter or SIG:
  2. A detailed description of the purposes and activities of the chapter or SIG , including the sources of receipts and the nature of expenditures.
  3. A sample copy of a uniform governing instrument, (such as a chapter's or SIG's articles of incorporation or articles of association). Chapters and SIGs are not reqired to be incorporated.
  4. An affirmation that, to the best of the officer's knowledge, the purposes and activities of the chapter or SIG are as stated in (2) and (3) above.
  5. The federal EIN number for the chapter or SIG. See Applying for a U.S. Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  6. The chapter's or SIG's financial reports for the prior year, as indicated above:
  7. A list of the chapter's current officers with their mailing addresses

For examples to follow, see the filings page of any participating GEL chapter or SIG. Chapters and SIGs can submit an application for participation at any time.


What is required when filing annual GEL reports?

Once a chapter or SIG has been included in the ICG's GEL, there is a small amount of book keeping required each year. The chapter or SIG must prepare an annual GEL report and send it to the ICG GEL administrator at by July 31. PDF format is preferred. The report can include multiple files or a single file.

Here is a checklist of information that is required in the annual GEL report for each participating chapter and SIG.

Chapters and SIGs can generate Balance Sheet and Income/Expense reports by hand, or use the copy of Quickbooks that the ICG makes available to maintain their finances and generate the reports automatically.

The GEL administrator asks chapters and SIGs to file Form 990-N with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service each year. This is a short e-postcard that can be filled out and transmitted on-line to the IRS free of charge. They should include the filing receipt they receive by email with their annual GEL report.

Tax exempt organizations are required to make financial reports and tax filing public. To comply with this requirement, the GEL administrator will post at least the last three years of each participating chapter's or SIG's reports on the ICG website. There is no need for a chapter or SIG to maintain a website to participate.

Participating chapters or SIGs who do not submit complete reports by the deadline will no longer participate in the ICG's GEL, and will lose their non-profit status.


What is the role of the ICG GEL Administrator?

The ICG GEL Administrator facilitates compliance with U.S. tax code regulations. At least 90 days before the end of the ICG's fiscal year (that would be the end of September), the ICG GEL Administrator files an update with the IRS that includes:

The annual submission to the IRS must be completed by September 30. The GEL Administrator can amend the submission quarterly to include Chapters and SIGs who join later.


How can donors or financial institutions verify my chapter or SIG tax-exempt status?

Donors and financial institutions often verify the tax-exempt status of a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization using the IRS Exempt Organization Select Check database. However, this database lists only central organizations, and does not include subordinate organizations who become 501(c)(3) tax exempt under a Group Exemption Letter.

According to IRS publication 4573, the central organization is responsible for verifying GEL participation by its subordinate organizations. Donors can verify the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status of a subordiante chapter or SIG by following these steps:

If the donor or financial institution requests it, the participating chapter or SIG can also download the ICG's IRS determination letter in PDF format, save the GEL Participation page in PDF format, and email them to the donor as attachments.

Many donors and financial institutions now verify an organization's tax-exempt status by accessing third-party charitable giving databases such as GuideStar. GuideStar allows 501(c)(3) organizations, including GEL chapters, to register and enter their information for access by potential donors. Participation is free. GuideStar is also easy to use: the information is searchable and is more complete than what is available from their 990-N filing.

Participating GEL chapters and SIGs are encouraged to create a GuideStar account and update their record once they have filed their first IRS form 990N postcard and the information appears when searching GuideStar using the chapter or SIG Employer Information Number (EIN). GuideStar records for ICG chapters and SIGs initially appear as "International Costumers' Guild, Inc." so it is important to update your record with the name of the chapter or SIG as shown in the "DBA" field of the 990N postcard as soon as possible. See Setting Up a Non-Profit Profile in GuideStar for step-by-step instructions.

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