Most tax-exempt organizations are required to file annual tax returns with the IRS. Even though most tax-exempt nonprofit organizations do not pay federal taxes (that is what “tax-exempt” means), most do have to file an informational return with the IRS. This annual reporting return is called a Form 990.
The IRS Form 990 is the reporting form that many federally tax-exempt organizations must file with the IRS each year. This form allows the IRS and the general public to evaluate a nonprofit’s operations; it includes information on the nonprofit’s mission, programs, and finances.
The type of Form 990 to be filed by an organization depends on the filing year and the gross receipts of the organization. The different forms include Forms 990, 990-EZ and 990-N.
Who needs to file Form 990?
Most federally tax-exempt organizations (with some exceptions like churches and state institutions) file a 990. All 501(c)(3) private foundations file a 990.
Your organization’s Form 990 is due on the 15th day of the 5th month after the end of the organization’s taxable year. This means that if your organization follows the calendar year (January 1 – December 31), your Form 990 would be due on May 15th of each year.
If an organization fails to file Form 990 three years in a row, the IRS will automatically revoke its tax-exempt status. Since 2011, more than 500,000 nonprofits across the country automatically lost their tax-exempt status for this reason. (Learn more about it here: You’ve Automatically Lost 501(c)(3) Tax-Exemption Status – Now What?)
The IRS has no appeal process for automatic revocations due to failure to file an appropriate Form 990 for three years. Without this status, your organization could be subject to paying income taxes. Additionally, you can avoid paying user fees and filing additional documents with the IRS by submitting your Form 990 each and every year.
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