INSIGHT : Annual filing deadline approaches for many tax exempt organizations

For many tax exempt organizations, May 15th is the deadline for making your annual filing to the IRS in order to maintain your tax exempt status. Read on to learn if this is deadline for your organization and which version of  Form 990 you should use.

Annual Filing Deadline

Organizations that have been recognized as tax exempt (so-called 501c3 organizations) are exempt from paying tax on the funds they received. However, they remain required to make annual filings to the IRS.  The filing requirement is satisfied by submitting one of the variants of Form 990. (more on which version below)   The deadline for making this filing is 5-1/2 months after the end for your organization’s fiscal year. Most organizations end their year on December 31, making May 15th the deadline for filing their 990. If your organization uses a different fiscal calendar for accounting purposes (as many larger organizations opt to), consult with your accounting resources to determine your respective deadlines.

If you are concerned that you will not be able to complete and submit your filing by the deadline, you may request an extension of time to make your annual filing using Form 8868 (also see options for filing electronically).

Form 990 options

Over the years, the IRS has developed three versions of form 990. This is, in part, to relieve smaller organizations (that typically have  minimal revenues) of the time, effort and costs associated with preparing a detailed filing.  Which form is appropriate for your organization?  This will depend on your organization’s receipts for the preceding year, as follows :

Form 990-N

Use version 990-N if your organization has less than $50,000 in gross receipts in the previous year. This is the so-called ‘e-Postcard’ filing because the required information is completed online. It’s targeted at the smallest tax exempt organizations and requires only general details about the organization.  Unlike the other versions, there is no penalty for late filing of the 990-N. However, as with all the filings, failing to file three years in a row will lead to revocation of your tax exempt status.

Use these links to access Form 990-N online  and its instructions.

Form 990-EZ

Use version 990-EZ if your organization has gross receipts between $50,000 and  $200,000 and less than $200,000 in total assets. This relatively short form requires more information than the 990-N filing. It requires a little more information than the 990-N, including basic information on the organization’s financials and a details on the organization’s three largest activities.

Use these links to access Form 990-EZ  and its instructions.

Form 990

Form 990 (no additional letters) is the full informational return to completed by organizations that don’t qualify to use forms 990-N or 990-EZ.  It is a much longer form and requires considerably more information than either of the other 990 options. Smaller organizations that qualify to use Form 990-N or 990-EZ may opt to complete the full form 990. However, due to the effort involved, this option is best saved for situations supported by specific circumstances.

Use these links to access Form 990 and its instructions.

If you are unsure of your organization’s annual filing requirements, or wish to discuss other nonprofit reporting and compliance issues, feel free to contact Zak Shusterman directly.

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