Important Compliance Deadline for Nonprofits: Form 990 is due on 5/15/2017
For nonprofits on a calendar tax year, the annual 990 return is due May 15, 2017. You must file this return in order to keep your organization’s federal tax exemption and in compliance with IRS and state regulations.
Organizations not on a calendar tax year must file a 990 return by the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of their calendar year. For example, organizations with a tax year ending June 30th generally must file by November 15th.
What is a Form 990 return?
Exempt organizations must file an annual return with the IRS, called Form 990. On this return, you will provide a full description of your charitable programs and accomplishments, organizational leadership, and finances. You will also answer questions that attest to your organization’s status as a true public charity.
The specific form your organization files depends on your revenue: Form 990-N (postcard), Form 990-EZ, or Form 990. Forms 990-EZ and 990 often require additional schedules depending on the organization and its activities during the previous year.
Who must file a 990?
Most 501(c)(3) public charities are required to file a 990 return, with only a few exceptions.
A reminder to new organizations: all nonprofits that incorporated in the previous tax year, even if they have not received an IRS determination letter, must file a Form 990. Failure to file a 990 return can jeopardize your future tax exempt status. To repeat, you must file one of these forms if you plan to apply for 501(c)(3) tax exemption, whether or not you have actually received your exemption from the IRS.
Which version of the 990 do I file?
There are currently three versions for public charities: Form 990-N, Form 990-EZ, and Form 990. The form you file depends on your organization’s revenue. The good news is that small nonprofits do not have to file the full Form 990, and can file the simpler 990-N or 990-EZ.
Organizations whose gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less can file 990-N. You can file 990-N online using this link. Organizations that are required to file a 990-N can instead elect to file a full return.
What if I don’t file?
If you don’t file a 990 return, or file late, the IRS can assess financial penalties on the organization. Failure to file for three consecutive years can result in revocation of your federal tax exemption.
Many state charities bureaus and foundations require a copy of your latest 990 return. Failure to file an IRS 990 return directly impacts your ability to solicit and apply for grants.
What if I can’t file on time?
Organizations that are not able to submit Form 990 or Form 990-EZ return before the deadline can apply an extension of time to file. Starting in the 2016 tax year, exempt organizations can now obtain an automatic 6-month extension by filing Form 8868 in a timely manner.
Organizations that file a 990-N postcard are not eligible for an extension of time.
Foundations and Churches
Private foundations file Form 990-PF irrespective of the organization’s revenue. Churches are generally not required to file a 990, although many churches elect to file for reporting purposes.
Filing a copy of 990 with the state
Some states require you file a copy of your 990 filing with their Department of Revenue or Charities Bureau. Be sure to retain electronic copies of your 990 return for the purposes of filing with other government agencies.
Contact us if you have questions or would like assistance with your 990.
Harbor Compliance clients enjoy personalized compliance support from a team of government and regulatory experts. We also provide key reminders, including 990 returns, state annual reports, and fundraising renewal due dates, which help their new and existing nonprofits stay compliant. Visit our Nonprofit Compliance solutions page to learn more.