Most not-for-profit organization (NPOs) must file one of three informational returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) annually. Which form a NPO must file is based in its gross receipts and/or total assets. In most instances, the following guidelines will normally dictate which form a NPO should complete.

Form 990Form 990-EZForm 990-N
FormsReturn of Organization Exempt From Income TaxShort Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income TaxElectronic Notice (e-Postcard)
Gross Receipts

– OR –

greater than or equal to $200,000less than $200,000 but typically more than $50,000$50,000 or less
Total Assetsgreater than or equal to $500,000less than $500,000

Certain NPOs are not required to file annual information returns with the IRS. These include churches; schools below college level affiliated with a church or operated by a religious order; and governmental instrumentalities such as public schools. Private foundations file Form 990-PF, Return of Private Foundation, and not Form 990, Form 990-EZ, or Form 990-N.

Filing Deadlines

Form 990, Form 990-EZ, and Form 990-N are due annually by the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of the NPO’s tax year. So, the due date for a NPO with a June 30 year end is November 15, additionally November 15 is the extension deadline for NPOs with a December 31 year end. Generally, a six-month automatic extension is available to a NPO that is unable to meet the due date. NPOs that file at least 250 returns of any type with the IRS (W-2s, 1099s, 941s, etc.) during the calendar year within the NPO’s tax year and have $10 million or more in total assets at the end of the tax year must file their Form 990 electronically.

Potential Penalties

Penalties for failure to file a timely return range from $20 to $100 per day depending on the NPO’s gross receipts. The penalties are capped between 5% of the NPO’s gross receipts and $51,000 per return for the organization. In addition, penalties may apply to officers and directors who fail to file the return after receiving a notification from the IRS. If an organization fails to file its required forms for three consecutive years, the IRS automatically revokes the NPO’s exempt status. If you have any questions about filing requirements for Form 990, Form 990-EZ, or Form 990-N, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Gabriel Sumner

Gabe Sumner supervises a number of significant engagements for clients in the nonprofit sector, including handling audits for educational institutions, social service agencies, trade associations, foundations, charities and social clubs around the Chicagoland area. Clients find his constant availability and commitment to service an added benefit to their Selden Fox relationship.