A crucial filing deadline of Oct. 15 is looming for many tax-exempt organizations that are required by law to file their Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service or risk having their federal tax-exempt status revoked. Nonprofit organizations that are at risk can preserve their status by filing returns by Oct. 15, 2010, under a one-time relief program.
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 mandates that most tax-exempt organizations must file an annual return or submit an electronic notice, with the IRS and it also requires that any tax-exempt organization that fails to file for three consecutive years automatically loses its federal tax-exempt status.
Here are 10 facts to help nonprofit organizations maintain their tax-exempt status.
1. Small nonprofit organizations at risk of losing their tax-exempt status because they failed to file required returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 can preserve their status by filing returns by Oct. 15, 2010.
2. Among the organizations that could lose their tax-exempt status are local sports associations and community support groups, volunteer fire and ambulance associations and their auxiliaries, social clubs, educational societies, veterans groups, church-affiliated groups, groups designed to assist those with special needs and a variety of others.
3. A list of the organizations that were at-risk as of the end of July is posted at IRS.gov along with instructions on how to comply with the new law.
4. Two types of relief are available for small exempt organizations — a filing extension for the smallest organizations required to file Form 990-N, Electronic Notice and a voluntary compliance program for small organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ, Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax.
5. Small tax-exempt organizations with annual receipts of $25,000 or less can file an electronic notice Form 990-N also known as the e-Postcard. To file the e-Postcard go to the IRS website and supply the eight information items called for on the form.
6. Under the voluntary compliance program, tax-exempt organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ must file their delinquent annual information returns by Oct. 15 and pay a compliance fee.
7. The relief is not available to larger organizations required to file the Form 990 or to private foundations that file the Form 990-PF.
8. Organizations that have not filed the required information return by the extended Oct. 15 due date will have their tax-exempt status revoked.
9. If an organization loses its exemption, it will have to reapply with the IRS to regain its tax-exempt status and any income received between the revocation date and renewed exemption may be taxable.
10. Donors who contribute to at-risk organizations are protected until the final revocation list is published by the IRS.