Tax season isn’t over just yet. Tax-exempt organizations with a calendar year-end (December 31) must file a return or request an extension by May 15, 2023.
The annual filing due date for the Form 990-series (Forms 990, 990-EZ and 990-PF, Form 990-N (the e-postcard), Form 990-T and Form 4720 are normally by the 15th day of the 5th month after the end of the accounting year. For an organization with a December 31 year-end, that’s May 15. Other organizations may need to do a little math.
Tax-exempt organizations that need extra time to file can request a six-month automatic extension by filing Form 8868. As with individuals, extending the time to file doesn’t extend the time to pay if any tax is due.
Many forms must be filed electronically, including the 990 series and the e-postcard. The IRS will send back returns filed on paper that should have been e-filed and reject electronically filed returns that are materially incomplete or use the wrong form. If you have questions about how (and which form) to file, review the instructions or check with your tax professional.
Who Has To File?
The annual filing requirements apply to most tax-exempt organizations, even if you don’t have significant activity. Some exceptions apply—you can check the list of those here.
Small tax-exempt organizations that qualify may file Form 990-N instead of Form 990 or Form 990-EZ. Those organizations can file Form 990-N if their annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less. Gross receipts mean the total amounts the organization received from all sources during its annual accounting period, without regard for costs or expenses.
Some organizations cannot file Form 990-N even if their gross receipts are $50,000 or less. Those include private foundations, supporting organizations, political organizations (section 527), and a few others. You can find a longer list of those here.
To file your Form 990-N, you must create an account (if you haven’t already) and file using the IRS web page. The IRS requires that you file using a computer, specifically advising, “Do not use a smartphone or tablet to file your Form 990-N.” The IRS has created a user guide for those who need a little guidance.
It’s worth noting that as of today, April 23, the Form 990-N web page is “unavailable due to system maintenance.”
Form 990-N is very easy to complete—there’s no math! You’ll need your EIN, tax year, and contact information. You’ll also need the name and address of a principal officer, and a website address, if any. Then, confirm that the organization’s annual gross receipts are $50,000 or less and submit.
It’s important to timely file. Organizations that fail to file required Forms 990, 990-EZ, or 990-N for three consecutive years will automatically lose their tax-exempt status. Revocation of the organization’s tax-exempt status will happen on the filing due date of the third consecutively-missed year.
It’s particularly important to file on time this year. Organizations that might have closed or slowed down temporarily during the pandemic might have missed filing obligations. If that happened in 2021 or 2022, you would be at risk for auto-revocation in 2023. If you lose your tax-exempt status, the organization is liable for all income, excise, or other taxes and penalties that may have been owed when your status was revoked. Your organization will also be responsible for any future tax liabilities that accrue due to your organization’s loss of exemption.
You can search online if you can’t remember whether you’ve filed (and you don’t have a confirmation in your files).
If you need more information, the IRS has created a web page for tax-exempt organizations which offers additional resources.