IRS Tax Return Filing Requirements for Nonprofits

By Jacob J. Dehne, CPA, Jacobson Jarvis & Co PLLC, Tax Manager

The Form 990 is a not-for-profit organization’s required annual IRS tax filing. As a board member, it is essential that you participate in reviewing the Form 990 before its submission. While your signature may not be required, it is crucial to ensure that the not-for-profit you serve submits a Form 990 annually, with correctly presented information. You should consider whether the organization is filing the appropriate tax return and assess if the document presents any red flags to prospective donors or government agencies.

Filing Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-N – Which should you file?

Most tax-exempt organizations must file an annual information return with the IRS. The organization’s gross receipts and total assets determine which return is required to be filed.

Form 990 [Return of Organization Exempt Form Income Tax]:

  • Organizations with gross receipts greater than or equal to $200,000 or total assets greater than or equal to $500,000 at the end of the tax year must file Form 990.

Form 990-EZ [Short Form Return of Organization Exempt Form Income Tax]:

  • Organizations with gross receipts less than $200,000 and total assets less than $500,000 at the end of the tax year have the option to file Form 990-EZ instead of Form 990.

Form 990-N [e-Postcard]:

  • Organizations with gross receipts normally $50,000 or less are eligible to file Form 990-N. However, some may choose to submit Form 990 or 990-EZ for enhanced public visibility, as these forms may serve as a primary source of information for external stakeholders.
Form 990Gross receipts ≥ $200,000 or total assets ≥ $500,000
Form 990-EZGross receipts < $200,000 and total assets < $500,000
Form 990-NGross receipts ≤ $50,000

Due Dates and Penalties:

Form 990 must be filed by the 15th day of the fifth month following the close of an organization’s tax year. For example, an organization with a fiscal year ending June 30 must file their tax return by November 15. A six-month filing extension is available and must be filed on or before the original due date. If an organization with a fiscal year ending June 30 submits a six-month filing extension on or before November 15, its new Form 990 due date is May 15. There is no filing extension available for Form 990-N.

For organizations with annual gross receipts up to $1,208,500, the IRS will assess a penalty of $20 for each day the return is late. Larger organizations with annual gross receipts exceeding $1,208,500 are subject to a penalty of $120 for each day the return is late.

Failure to file an annual information return with the IRS for three consecutive years will result in an organization losing its tax-exempt status. Thousands of nonprofit organizations have had their tax-exempt status revoked in the last few years. The process of reinstating an organization’s tax-exempt status is both time-consuming and expensive, so it is vital to diligently monitor your tax return filings.

Jacobson Jarvis Support:

By exclusively focusing on the not-for-profit community for the past 30 years, the Jacobson Jarvis tax team has a unique understanding of not-for-profit tax issues and their impact on an organization’s reporting. Our mission is to help not-for-profit clients understand potential tax problems and chart a course to successfully navigate the complexities of the tax code.

If you have questions or need assistance with your organization’s Form 990, please contact us. Now is the time to prepare for your upcoming annual tax filing, ensuring that the information accurately and effectively conveys the purpose of your organization.

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About the Author:

Jacob J. Dehne, CPA, has more than 7 years of experience in serving the not-for-profit community. He has a distinctive understanding of tax-exempt organizations including public charities, private foundations, and social and recreation clubs. He especially enjoys working with organizations dedicated to youth development and those committed to making a positive impact in the community.

Jacob is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants (WSCPA), and Washington State Golf Association (WA Golf).