Form 990 is an "information return" and is required to be filed under the provisions of Internal Revenue Code Section 6033.
Basic Resources Needed
- Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (PDF, 9 pages)
- Form 990-EZ, Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (PDF, 3 pages)
- Instructions for Form 990 and 990-EZ (HTML format)
- Form 990 Schedule A, Supplementary Information (PDF, 7 pages)
- Instructions for Schedule A for Form 990 and 990-EZ (HTML format)
- Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (PDF, 4 pages)
- Instructions for Form 990-T (HTML format)
- Form 8868, Application for Extension of Time To File an Exempt Organization Return (PDF, 4 pages)
Required to File Form 990?Non-profits that are exempt from tax under the provisions of Internal Revenue Code Section 501(a) generally must file either Form 990 or the shorter Form 990-EZ each year.
Non-profits are not required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ if its gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less. For more information on this $25,000 gross receipts test, see How to Determine If an Organization's Gross Receipts are Normally $25,000 (or $5,000) or Less in the Instructions for Form 990.
Certain organizations are not required to file Form 990. This includes religious organizations. See Organizations Not Required To File Form 990 or 990-EZ in the Instructions for Form 990.
Form 990-EZThe non-profit can file the shorter Form 990-EZ if the organization has less than $100,000 in gross receipts and less than $250,000 in total assets at the end of the year. Gross receipts include all income from all sources during the tax year without subtracting any expenses.
Schedule ANon-profits are required to attach Schedule A to their Form 990 or 990-EZ return. If the organization is not required to file Form 990 or 990-EZ, then it is not required to file Schedule A.
Schedule A is used to report information that is not open for public disclosure. This includes information about the compensation of officers, employees, and independent contractors.
Unrelated Business Income and Form 990-TNon-profits that engage in for-profit business enterprises may be subject to corporate income taxes on its unrelated business income. To be considered unrelated business income, the income must be generated by a business that is "regularly" carried on and that is "unrelated" to the exempt function of the non-profit. Unrelated business income is defined and explained in the Definitions section of the Instructions for Form 990-T.
Non-profits must file Form 990-T if it has $1,000 or more in gross income from an unrelated business. Non-profits are that not required to file Form 990 (such as religious organizations) are required to file Form 990-T if they have unrelated business income.
Public DisclosureNon-profits are required to make certain tax documents available for public inspection. The three most recent information returns (Form 990 or 990-EZ) and its application for exempt status (Form 1023) must be made available for inspection upon request.
Form 990-T reporting unrelated business income is open for public inspection only for non-profits that organized under Code Section 501(c)(3).
Schedule A is not open to public inspection and does not need to be disclosed by the organization.
Organizations can meet their public disclosure obligations by posting copies of their information returns on the Internet. For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions About the Exempt Organization Public Disclosure Requirements on the IRS Web site.
Due Dates and ExtensionsForm 990, 990-EZ, Schedule A, and 990-T must be filed by 15th day of the fifth month following the end of the organization's tax year. The tax year for most non-profits ends on December 31st, so the normal filing deadline is May 15th. If the deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the returns are due on the next business day.
Non-profits can request an automatic three-month extension of time to file all information returns by submitting Form 8868, Application for Extension of Time To File an Exempt Organization Return (PDF, 4 pages). The organization can request an additional three-month extension (not automatically granted) by filing another Form 8868 and filing out the information in Part II. To request an additional extension, the non-profit must first request an automatic extension.
Additional Resources from the IRS
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Annual Reporting Requirements for Exempt Organizations
- Requesting Exemption from Requirement to File Form 990 or Form 990-EZ
- Common Errors Made by Exempt Organizations, Filing Tips for Form 990
- Common Errors Made by Exempt Organizations, Filing Tips for Form 990-EZ
- Stay Exempt – Tax Basics for 501(c)(3)s (an online workshop covering tax law basics for non-profits)
- Tax Information for Charities & Other Non-Profits (main section of the IRS Web site devoted to tax-exempt organizations)
- Exempt Organizations Update (an IRS newsletter with tax updates concerning non-profits)
Additional Resources from Around the WebGuideStar.org
Provides a database of non-profit organizations, including publicly disclosed copies of Form 990.
Joanne Fritz provides information for managing, promoting, and raising funds for non-profit organizations. Part of the About.com network.
USA.gov for Nonprofits
A collection of federal resources and information for non-profit organizations. USA.gov is the official Web portal of the US government.