What Is IRS Form 990?

IRS Form 990 Explained

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IRS Form 990 is an information return. It's required to be filed under the provisions of Internal Revenue Code Section 6033. Nonprofits, charities, and other tax-exempt organizations must generally file either Form 990 or Form 990-EZ along with Schedule A with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year.

This allows these organizations to maintain their tax-exempt status. Certain organizations are not required to file Form 990.

What Is Form IRS 990?

Form 990 provides the IRS with pertinent information regarding a nonprofit's activities, finances, and income. The purpose is to ensure that they continue to meet all the rules and regulations necessary to qualify as a nonprofit organization. The majority of nonprofits must submit this information form to the IRS.

IRS Form 990

Who Uses IRS Form 990?

Nonprofits that are exempt from tax under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(a) must typically file either Form 990 or the shorter Form 990-EZ each year if they're required to file an exempt organization information return.

Nonprofits are not required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ if their gross receipts are $50,000 or less as of 2020.

Religious organizations generally aren't required to file Form 990.

Types of Forms 990

A nonprofit can file the shorter Form 990-EZ if the organization has less than $200,000 in gross receipts and less than $500,000 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.

A nonprofit must file Form 990-T instead if it has $1,000 or more in gross income from an unrelated business. Nonprofits that aren't required to file Form 990, such as religious organizations, are also required to file Form 990-T if they have unrelated business income.

Nonprofits that engage in for-profit business enterprises can be subject to corporate income taxes on their 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 nonprofit to be considered unrelated business income.

Organizations that aren't required to file Form 990 or Form 990-EZ should file Form 990-N, an "e-Postcard."

Form Who Uses It 
990 Nonprofits that have at least $50,000 in gross receipts annually must file either Form 990 or 990-EZ.
990-EZ Nonprofits that have less than $200,000 in gross receipts and assets valued at less than $500,000 can instead file this simpler form. 
990-T Nonprofits that have $1,000 or more in gross income from unrelated business sources must file this form.
 
990-N This form must be filed by organizations that aren't required to file Form 990 or Form 990-EZ.

Where to Get IRS Form 990

An interactive version of Form 990 is available on the IRS website. It can be completed online, then downloaded, saved, or printed out.

Can IRS Form 990 Be E-Filed?

Forms 990 and 990-EZ can be e-filed. Form 990-T cannot be e-filed and must be mailed as of 2020.

Where to Mail IRS Form 990

Tax-exempt organizations can mail their reports and tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service Center, Ogden, UT 84201-0027.

Those using a private delivery service should send their documents to Internal Revenue Service, Mail Stop 31A: Team 105, 7940 Kentucky Drive, Florence, KY 41042.

Requirements for Filing IRS Form 990

Nonprofits are required to attach Schedule A to their Form 990 or 990-EZ return. An organization isn't required to file Schedule A if it isn't required to file Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Nonprofits are required to make certain tax documents available for public inspection. Their three most recent information returns, Forms 990 or 990-EZ, and the organization's Form 1023, the application for exempt status, must be made available for inspection upon request.

Schedule A is used to report information that isn't open for public disclosure. This includes information about the compensation of officers, employees, and independent contractors.

Schedule A isn't open for public inspection, and it doesn't have to be disclosed by the organization.

Form 990-T, which reports unrelated business income, is open for public viewing only for nonprofits that are organized under Code Section 501(c)(3).

Organizations can meet their public disclosure obligations by posting copies of their information returns on the Internet.

Form 990, 990-EZ, Schedule A, and 990-T must be filed by the 15th day of the fifth month following the end of the organization's tax year. The tax year for most nonprofits ends on December 31, so the normal filing deadline is May 15. The returns are due on the next business day if the deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Nonprofits can request an automatic three-month extension to file all information returns by submitting Form 8868, Application for Extension of Time to File an Exempt Organization Return.

The organization can request an additional three-month extension by filing another Form 8868 and filling out the information in Part II, but it's not automatically granted. The nonprofit must first request an automatic extension before it can request an additional extension.

Key Takeaways

  • IRS Form 990 is an information return filed by nonprofits and tax-exempt charities with gross receipts of $50,000 or less as of 2020.
  • The form reports activities, finances, and income, and it ensures that these organizations still qualify as nonprofits.
  • Religious organizations generally are not required to file this form.
  • Form 990 must be must be filed by the 15th day of the fifth month following the end of an organization's tax year.

Article Sources

  1. IRS. "Exempt Organization Annual Filing Requirements Overview." Accessed Sept. 12, 2020.

  2. IRS. "Instructions for Form 990-EZ." Page 1. Accessed Sept. 12, 2020.

  3. IRS. "Unrelated Business Income Tax." Accessed Sept. 12, 2020.

  4. IRS. "Annual Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Exempt Organizations — Form 990-N (e-Postcard)." Accessed Sept. 12, 2020.

  5. IRS. "Exempt Organizations e-File—Eligibility and Availability." Accessed Sept. 12, 2020.

  6. IRS. "Where to File - Tax Exempt and Government Entities." Accessed Sept. 12, 2020.