IRS and 990 Resources

Please note: Many links on this page download PDF documents.  Scroll down the page for the 990 resources.  Other links are listed to the right.

General IRS Links and Information

Publication 4630, The Exempt Organizations Products and Services Navigator lists all the resources available from the IRS to nonprofits. This is a nice, consolidated reference for everything they have for us.

Two other updated pieces are publications 4221pc (for charities) and 4221pf (for private foundations) provide an overview of activities that could jeopardize exempt status as well as information on record keeping, reporting and disclosure compliance requirements.

Both publications seem easy to follow and are further example of how (I think at least) the IRS is trying to make compliance info easier to access and grasp. As nonprofits we have A LOT to keep track of and rules to follow, so I appreciate the efforts the IRS is making to help.

IRS Publication 15-B, The Employers Guide for Fringe Benefit. Click here to download a PDF of the publication.  You might be surprised what you can offer your employees as a benefit that will have little cost to you but big returns in happy employees.

Nothing revolutionary but they seem to have reorganized some of their existing resources into a new spot. Seems to be a bit better laid out, all in one place.

The IRS recently updated Publication 557 (a PDF). The updated publication provides helpful guidance on what information needs to be provided to donors to acknowledge donations, the rules regarding public disclosure of annual returns to the IRS, including the 990-T form, as well as examples of what constitutes the all-important public support needed to maintain tax-exempt status.

IRS Plans to Make Greater Use of “Commensurate Test” in Oversight of Charities

The commensurate test generally measures if a charity is undertaking, through contributions and grants, a charitable purpose commensurate in scope with its financial resources. Miller said that the Service will “re-energize” what he called a “little-used line of legal precedent.”  Thanks to some news about nonprofit college and hospital spending and levels of endowments the IRS wants to make sure we are using our funds for our charitable purposes and not hording our funds.

Do you have employees? Then you need the Exempt Employer’s Toolkit from the IRS. It includes info on payroll taxes and what documents you need to get from your employees. And if you have any consultants you work with there is guidance there to on how to report their earnings.

A reminder from the IRS about the restrictions placed on advocacy by 501(c) 3’s. We can and should lobby but we need to make sure we do it the right way.

Gotta beef with a nonprofit? Want to file a complaint? Here is where to do it and what the process is like.

Audit? Compliance Check? Examination? What is the difference and why is it happening to my organization? Find out here.

Form 990 Resources

When do we file the new 990? Read below or click here for a PDF of a general overview of the instructions.

Calendar year – Use the 2008 Form 990 to report on the 2008 calendar year accounting period. A calendar year accounting period begins on January 1 and ends on December 31.

Fiscal year – If the organization has established a fiscal year accounting period, use the 2008 Form 990 to report on the organization’s fiscal year that began in 2008 and ended 12 months later. A fiscal year accounting period should normally coincide with the natural operating cycle of the organization. Be certain to indicate in the heading of Form 990 the date the organization’s fiscal year began in 2008 and the date the fiscal year ended in 2009.

Form 8734 – the end of advance ruling form is no longer required for groups whose advance ruling periods expire on or after June 8th 2008. Click here for the details.

The IRS’s recent 990 webinar is still available on line for folks who want to know more.

At the IRS website the have a series of mini-courses on various topics including several on the new 990, walking you through the whole form. They are 20 to 30 minutes each and free.

The new form 990 has a yes or no question as to weather or not the governing body of the nonprofit has reviewed the form 990 prior to submission. Can you guess what answer they want to see here?  From the Independent Sector’s guide to the new 990:

The organization must explain (in Schedule O) the process, if any, it follows to have officers, board members, committees, or management review the prepared Form 990, when that review happened, and the extent of the review. The instructions clearly say “If no review was conducted, state ‘No review was conducted.’ ” The IRS does not require or recommend any particular procedure for reviewing the Form, but most organizations will want to ensure that their senior staff managers and/or the board committee responsible for overseeing financial policies and procedures have a chance to review the Form before filing.

Just a reminder that we are supposed to make certain documents open to public inspection if asked. Here is a list from the IRS that mentions the 990, form 1023 and the 990-T.  Posting on the web is good as long as one can save and print copies of the forms. Here is a good FAQ about the disclosure requirements.

A resource asked for was a sample gift acceptance policy which the new form 990 asks us for. It seems like those are pretty unique to the nonprofit but here is a list of ones that can be found on line from the Foundation Center. These could be used to help us get started crafting our own. If anyone has other sample policies they would like to share let me know and I will put them up here too.

I encourage you all to read about what information the new 990 will ask to keep track of and have on hand before we or our auditors have to fill this out. Preparation will save us time and money.

The IRS has updated its 990-N information, click here for the details.

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued interim guidance (Notice 2007-45) regarding the public disclosure of Form 990-T by tax-exempt organizations. The new disclosure requirements were initially set forth in the Pension Protection Act of 2006; Notice 2007-45 now provides the following additional specifics:

The new Form 990-T public disclosure rules apply to all Forms 990-T filed after August 17, 2006.  The public disclosure rules for Form 990-T are the same as they are for Form 990.  Any religious or governmental entities not currently required to file a Form 990, but who file a Form 990-T, are required to publicly disclose their Form 990-T.  The Internal Revenue Service will not be making copies of the Form 990-T available to GuideStar.  The tax-exempt organization is not required to put a copy of the Form 990-T on their web site.  Tax-exempt organizations preparing a Form 990-T solely for purposes of claiming the telephone excise tax refund are not required to make such Form 990-T available for public inspection.