In general, exempt organizations are required to file annual returns, although there are exceptions. If an organization does not file a required return or files late, the IRS may assess penalties. In addition, if an organization does not file as required for three consecutive years, it automatically loses its tax-exempt status.
The IRS sends back Form 990 series returns filed on paper – and rejects electronically filed returns – when they are materially incomplete or the wrong return. If we send back your organization’s return, follow the instructions in the accompanying letter and on this page.
The most common errors causing the return of a Form 990 series returns are missing or incomplete schedules .
Review these pages for Form 990, 990-EZ, and 990-PF filing tips:
- 990-series forms and schedules
- Filing thresholds – which 990-series return to file
- Table of due dates for exempt organizations annual returns
- Which form should I use?
- Annual electronic notice (e-Postcard) for small exempt organizations
- Filing tips
- Annual Reporting Requirements FAQs
Although they are exempt from income taxation, exempt organizations are generally required to file annual returns of their income and expenses with the Internal Revenue Service. Small tax-exempt organizations with gross receipts under a certain threshold may be required to file an annual electronic notice. Some organizations, such as churches and certain church-affiliated organizations, are not required to file annual returns or notices.
If an organization has unrelated business income, it must file an unrelated business income tax return. In addition to filing an annual exempt organization return, exempt organizations may be required to file other returns of and pay employment taxes. Some organizations may be required to file certain returns electronically.
In addition to required filings, a charity may have other ongoing compliance obligations.
Learn more about the benefits, limitations and expectations of tax-exempt organizations by attending 10 courses at the online Small to Mid-Size Tax Exempt Organization Workshop.
The IRS’ Tax Exempt Organization Search helps users find information about a tax-exempt organization’s federal tax status and filings. You can find:
- Organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions (Pub 78 data).
- Users may rely on this list in determining deductibility of their contributions. (Users may also download a complete list.) Data posting date: 02-10-2020
- Be aware of the following when searching for organizations that can receive tax-deductible contributions:
- Automatically revoked organizations
- By law, tax-exempt status is revoked when an organization does not file required Form 990-series returns or notices annually for three consecutive years. The automatic revocation date listed for each organization is historical; it reflects an organization’s effective date of automatic revocation, but not necessarily its current tax-exempt status. The organization may have applied to the IRS for reinstatement of exemption and been recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt after its effective date of automatic revocation. (Users may also download a complete list.) Data posting date: 02-10-2020
- IRS determination letters dated on or after January 1, 2014
- IRS issues a determination letter recognizing an organization as tax-exempt under the sub-section for which it applied. An organization must apply and pay a user fee to receive a determination letter. Data posting date: 02-14-2020
- Form 990-series returns
Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF and 990-T (990-T returns for 501(c)(3) organizations only). (Users may also download a complete list.) Data posting date: 01-24-2020
- Organizations that have filed a Form 990-N (e-Postcard)
- Form 990-N (e-Postcard) is an annual electronic notice most small tax-exempt organizations (annual gross receipts normally $50,000 or less) are eligible to file instead of Form 990 or Form 990-EZ. (Users may also download a complete list.) Data posting date: 03-02-2020
Search Tips for Tax Exempt Organization Search
JAWS Users should visit Tax Exempt Organization Search: Frequently Asked Questions for information on how to use the search tool.
- Frequently asked questions – Tax Exempt Organization Search Tool
- Revocations of 501(c)(3) Determinations
- Suspensions Pursuant to Code Section 501(p)
- Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract (EO BMF): a list of organizations recognized as exempt by the IRS
- www.StayExempt.irs.gov – Interactive Training for Charities
Because Arizona modified its nonprofit corporation law effective January 1, 2017, to eliminate the newspaper publication requirement for corporations that have a place of business in Maricopa County or Pima County I reduced our fee to form an Arizona nonprofit corporation from $1,297 to $1,097, a reduction of $200.
Effective January 1, 2017, Arizona nonprofit corporation law was modified to eliminate the previous requirement that all new Arizona nonprofit corporations must publish their Articles of Incorporation in a newspaper approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the publication requirement will continue for all Arizona nonprofit corporations that have a known place of business in a county other than Maricopa or Pima.