Submitting Form 1023 for “Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code” to the IRS is cause for celebration for any organization seeking that coveted tax-exempt status. While waiting for the determination letter from the IRS regarding the application, there can be many uncertainties regarding what to tell donors about donations, and what to do about other submissions, like Form 990.
For oversight and evaluation purposes, most nonprofits need to annually file Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax) instead. Beyond aspects of the organization’s finances, Form 990 collects information related to practical and operational aspects like conflicts of interest, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, and charitable gift acceptance. Submitting an annual filing is also essential to retaining the tax-exempt status.
When is Form 990 Due?
So, when is Form 990 due exactly? It depends on the end of your organization’s taxable year; the form is due the 15th day of the fifth month after the organization’s taxable year. For most tax-exempt organizations that follow the typical calendar year (January 1 through December 31), this means Form 990 is due on May 15th every year.
What Do New Nonprofits Need to Do?
What does this mean for new nonprofits and organizations waiting on the tax-exemption determination letter? Expect to submit a variation of Form 990 in the year following the close of the first tax year. This is the case even if the organization is still waiting on the determination letter from the IRS in regard to tax-exempt status.
So, for example, let’s say a nonprofit filed articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State and adopted bylaws in March 2019. The organization subsequently submitted Form 1023 to apply for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status. In the governing documents, the organization’s tax year is established as the typical January to December. For this organization, they should expect to file Form 990 by May 15, 2020, with information related to the receipts for the 2019 operating year.
Plan Ahead to be Prepared to Submit
The full Form 990 is over 10 pages (not including additional schedules and written attachments), so no doubt your organization should have a jump start on the process. The best way to be prepared, year after year to avoid a failure to file, is to have updated and applicable policies asked about on the form readily available to be referenced. I’m offering a great deal that features 10 policies related to Form 990 for $990. The rate includes a comprehensive consultation to discuss your organization’s need and a round of reviews so we can make certain the documents fit your organization’s needs.
No matter what stage of the nonprofit process you’re at—from just getting started to hiring employees to board management—don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or challenges. I’m available via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and by phone (515-371-6077).