IRS Tax Form 990: What is it?


Contributions to candidates or other political organizations are reported as grants . Before you dig into the requirements for filing Form 990-PF, it’s important to understand the basics of private foundations and if your entity qualifies. Organizations must enter on Form 990, Part VII, the amount of ‘reportable compensation’ and ‘other compensation’ paid to certain individuals for the calendar year ending with or within the organization’s tax year. Schedule J, Compensation Information, and certain other parts of the Form 990 also rely on the definition of reportable compensation. One day, a state Attorney General is going to decide to test the charity registration laws and sue someone over these legalities.

  • The way these platforms usually work is that they collect the money from potential donors and then give it to whoever is running the campaign when some threshold amount has been reached or some time has passed.
  • If the organization does not file a complete return or does not furnish correct information, the IRS will send the organization a letter that includes a fixed time to fulfill these requirements.
  • Instead, the political organization must determine the various types of income it has and report each type on the appropriate lines in Parts VIII and I of Form 990.
  • The IRS Form 990 is a filing requirement for all 501 organizations.
  • Tax-exempt political organizations whose annual gross receipts are $25,000 or more must file Form 990, unless excepted.
  • If the organization is liquidated, dissolved, or terminated, file the return by the 15th day of the 5th month after liquidation, dissolution, or termination.

Andrew Carnegie may be the most influential philanthropist in American history. His donations are believed to have exceeded $350 million, roughly $5.5 billion today. That number amounted to almost 90 percent of his fortune.

Instructions to complete Form 990 Part IX – Statement of Functional Expenses

Getting an organization tax-exempt under the Internal Revenue Code is very difficult. An organization must prove that its operations, assets, and business structure exist solely to complete its mission. Form 990 is used by the IRS to gather information about an organization’s mission, programs, and finances. Ultimately, it helps the federal government determine whether an organization is operating according to tax-exempt rules. Part III of Form 990 provides an opportunity for a political organization to describe its activities and how they further its exempt purpose.


This form must be completed and submitted electronically. All filers must register at the prior to filing their first Form 990 N. This is a one-time registration; you won’t be asked to register again. The form you choose to file depends on your unit’s gross receipts and total assets, as defined in the table below. All Moose Lodges, Chapters, Legions, Associations, and any other unit that has a unique EIN are required to file an annual information return, known as IRS Form 990, Form 990EZ, or Form 990N.

Does a political organization need to complete Part VIII of Form 990?

In fact, if a private foundation has zero gross revenue for the year, and even takes a loss on its investments, it still must prepare and submit a complete return. The official IRS subtitle of Form 990 is Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. It is tempting to consider this a tax return because it so closely resembles a corporate tax form, but the IRS calls it an information return. The reason for this is that nonprofits are tax exempt, and therefore, they typically do not pay corporate income taxes.


See the instructions for definitions of related organization and control and determine the organization’s related organizations required to be listed in Schedule R . These sources offer guidance on reading, understanding, and applying Form 990 data. Each resource includes information on what data is requested and collected by the IRS and where to find that data. There are also instructions for adding additional forms and responding to appended sections. Use Form 8868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File an Exempt Organization Return, to request an automatic extension of time to file.

Disclosure of names and addresses of contributors

It also lists each line and schedule of the form that have special instructions for a group return filer. Also, this penalty can be imposed if the organization’s return contains incorrect information. For example, an organization that reports contributions net of related fundraising expenses can be subject to this penalty. If the organization needs a complete copy of its previously filed return, it can file Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. See for information on getting blank tax forms. File Form 990 by the 15th day of the 5th month after the organization’s accounting period ends (May 15th for a calendar-year filer).


IRS Form 990 is used by tax-exempt organizations, nonexempt charitable trusts, and section 527 political organizations to provide the IRS with the information required by section 6033. Nonprofit with gross receipts of more than $50,000 in the yearmust file the Exempt Organization Annual Information Return – This is the State of California’s annual return. This form must be filed on or before the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of your organization’s fiscal year .

The amended return must provide all the information called for by the form and instructions, not just the new or corrected information. Check the “Amended return” box in Item B of the Heading of the return on page 1 of the form. Also, enter in Schedule O (Form 990 or 990-EZ) which parts and schedules of the Form 990 were amended and describe the amendments. Foreign organizations and organizations located in U.S. possessions, whose gross receipts from sources within the United States are normally $50,000 or less and which did not engage in significant activity in the United States .

If the exempt organization doesn’t provide a reasonable explanation for not filing on or before the deadline, the IRS will impose penalties based on the organizational gross receipts. Click here to know about the Late filing penalties of Form 990-T. The business activity code that best describes an organization’s unrelated trade or business should be entered in this section. Trailing zeros should be added to codes between two and five digits long to comply with e-filing requirements to complete the six-character field. Many states that accept Form 990 in place of their own forms require that all amounts be reported based on the accrual method of accounting.

For 2020, references to Form 1099-MISC, box 6, were added throughout the relevant parts of the Form 990 instructions. In prior years, reportable compensation was defined as aggregate compensation that is reported on Form W-2, box 1 or 5 and/or Form 1099-MISC, box 7. Beginning with tax year 2020, taxpayers must use Form 1099-NEC, box 1, rather than Form 1099-MISC, box 7, to report nonemployee compensation.

Core with Parts I through XII completed, filed in numerical order. Use of a paid preparer does not relieve the organization of its responsibility to file a complete and accurate return. Use the 2015 Form 990 to report on the 2015 calendar year accounting period. A calendar year accounting period begins on January 1 and ends on December 31. Complete Part IV of Form 990 to determine which schedules must be completed by the organization. Throughout the instructions, IRS deleted specific references to section 4947 trusts, relying instead on the understanding that they are treated like section 501 organizations and must complete all the sections the 501 must complete.