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Tax Time for Nonprofits: Form 990 Reporting for Tax-Exempt Organizations and Related IRS Requirements

Have you filed your taxes yet?  For many Americans, that question strikes at the heart and raises additional questions like the following.  Are my finances in order?  Did I maintain sufficient records?  Do I even understand the IRS’s tax reporting forms?  And of course – will I owe any money? 

Each year, most nonprofit organizations consider similar questions because, like private individuals, they are required to file annual returns with the IRS.  (Note that churches, their “integrated auxiliaries,” and associations of churches, however, are statutorily exempt from this annual filing requirement.)  Nonprofit tax reporting involves many similar elements.  Thankfully, April 15 is not the operative deadline, and typically no income taxes are due.   

Form 990 Filing Deadlines

The Form 990 filing deadline is different than for individuals and businesses:  it is due four and a half months after the close of an organization’s fiscal year.  So for nonprofits operating on a calendar fiscal year, their Form 990s will be due on May 15. 

An automatic three-month filing extension is available, provided that IRS Form 8868 is filed prior to the original filing deadline.  Beginning with tax year 2016 (with reporting in 2017), this automatic extension will lengthen to six months – good news indeed!

Form 990 Versions

For nonprofit Form 990 filers, the requisite 990 version depends on annual revenues and asset value as follows:

IRS Form 990-N.....................less than or equal to $50,000.00 in gross receipts.1

IRS Form 990-EZ...................less than $200,000.00 in gross receipts and less than $500,000.00 in total assets at year-end.

IRS Form 990.........................$200,000.00 or more in gross receipts, or total assets of more than $500,000.00.

IRS Form 990-N “e-postcard” can be filed online at www.irs.gov.  This form simply notifies the IRS of a nonprofit’s continuing existence.  Note too that an organization may file a version use for higher gross receipts but is not required to do so.  Form 990-EZ requires financial information, as well as program descriptions, and is a simplified version of the full-fledged Form 990.  Form 990 involves detailed reporting of revenues, expenditures, and tax-exempt activities.  Given the complexity of this form, it is recommended that organizations preparing Form 990s seek the services of accountants and attorneys with experience in the field. 

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