ExpressTaxExempt Blog

Filing Tips for Form 990-PF

Before we get to the filing tips, let's demystify IRS Form 990-PF. This form is the information return U.S. private foundations file with the Internal Revenue Service. This public document provides fiscal data for the foundation, names of trustees and officers, application information, and a complete grants list. 

The IRS Form 990-PF may be the only source where one will find complete grants lists for smaller and mid-sized foundations. Larger foundations often issue annual reports, which provide descriptions of the grants awarded during the year for which the return is filed, and many have web sites. 

When filing the 990-PF, the IRS is ever so kind to provide these helpful filing tips based on common errors:

Complete Schedule B (Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF). All organizations must complete and attach Schedule B or certify the organization is not required to attach Schedule B by checking the box in Line 2, Form 990-PF.

Part XV, line 3 must be completed if Part I, Line 25 has an amount. Be sure to state the purpose of the grant or contribution. If the foundation only makes contributions to pre-selected charitable organizations and does not accept unsolicited applications for funds, check the box on line 2, Part XV.

Complete Part XV, lines 2a through 2d, if the foundation had assets of $5,000 or more at any time during the year, unless the box in Part XV, line 2 is checked.

Be sure to complete all required Parts. Enter amounts in all applicable lines. For Parts or lines that do not  apply, enter "N/A" (not applicable). Answer "Yes", "No" or "N/A" to each question.

Complete Part II, Balance Sheets. Foundations with total assets of $5,000 or more at any time during the year must complete all of columns (A), (B), and (C). Foundations with total assets less than $5,000 at all times during the year must complete all of columns (A) and (B) and only line 16 of column (C).

Complete Part XV, Supplementary Information. Part XV must be completed if the foundation had assets of $5,000 or more at any time during the year.

Sign The Return. An officer of the organization must sign the return. An officer is the president, vice president, treasurer, assistant treasurer, chief accounting officer, corporate officer or tax officer. If the return is filed by a trust, it must be signed by the authorized trustee or trustees.

Complete Part X. All domestic foundations, foreign foundations claiming status as a private operating foundation, and private operating foundations described in 4942(j)(3) or 4942(j)(5) must complete Part X.

Reminder: protect personal information.  Do not include unnecessary personal identifying information because the IRS is required to disclose approved exemption applications and information returns, exempt organizations should not include Social Security numbers on these forms. Documents subject to disclosure include attachments filed with the form, and correspondence with the IRS about the filing.

You want to make sure you do not leave any question blank, for Pats or lines that do not apply simply enter "N/A". For more filing help you can visit  IRS.gov. To know more about the Form 990-PF and how to e-file your return to the IRS, visit Express990.com 

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Tax Extensions: Form 8868 - Extension of Time to File Form 990

Let’s face it: filing Form 990 is no easy task; it’s daunting and exhausting. As a matter of fact, the IRS estimates the time for preparing Form 990-EZ to be 14 hours and 24 minutes. Form 990? An unbelievable 23 hours and 29 minutes. With so much data to sort through and so much information to report, combined with the ever-looming threat of a dreaded tax audit, tax-exempt organizations are at a severe disadvantage.

Here at Express990, we understand that your goal is to help your community and promote your cause, not spend endless hours on tax forms. Sometimes you need a break, sometimes you want to scream. Sometimes you just need to hit the snooze button on filing your taxes. We get it. That’s why not only are we striving to create a platform for easy and stress-free Form 990 filing, we’re even here to help you get a little more time to get everything sorted out.

Express990 provides Form 8868, Extension of Time to File Form 990. It allows for a 3-month automatic extension of time to file Forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-PF.

Don’t worry about having to fill out another tedious tax form in order to continue filling out tedious tax forms. Our system is designed for tax filers, not tax experts. We simplified the filing process by presenting the form in easy to understand, and easy to answer, questions. There’s no sifting through mind-numbing IRS checkboxes and dollar amounts. We’ve re-written the form in everyday words to make sense to everyday people.

Time an issue? 
Not with us. When you e-file, you receive confirmation as soon as 15 minutes and usually no later than 24 hours.

No hours at the IRS office, no mailing forms and spending days wondering if everything is okay. You’ll receive an email as soon as the IRS accepts the extension. Even if there’s a problem and the IRS rejects your extension, our system tells you why and helps you fix the problem.

You’ve got more important things to do, don’t spend all day toiling over taxes. File your extension with us today and free yourself from the burden of meeting a fast-approaching deadline. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s simple. So, the biggest question is, what are you waiting for? Get extra peace of mind and get back to doing what you love. File your extension now.

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Tax Deadline: Business Tax Return and Business Tax Extension

The Business Tax Return deadline is Today! If you need more time to file you can submit a Form 7004 - Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns - with our sister product ExpressExtension.com.

Filing a Business Tax Extension:
Business Tax Extension Form 7004 must be filed by midnight March 17th, according to your time zone. Once it is processed by the IRS, you will be granted an automatic 5 or 6 month tax extension depending on the business type.

Who is Form 7004 for?
A Business Tax Extension can be use by:
  • - C-Corporations and S-Corporations
  • - Multi-Member LLCs and Partnerships
  • - Trusts and Estates
What is needed to file From 7004?
You will need the following information: business name, address and Tax-ID/EIN. Make sure your information matches what the IRS has on record. You can verify your information with them by calling 1.800.829.4933

If you have any questions regarding the filing of a Business Tax Extension Form 7004, contact the Express Extension Support Center via phone: 803.514.5155 or email: support@expressextension.com   

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IRS Update: IRS Commissioner Released - Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Proposal Statement

The IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, has released a statement on The Fiscal Year 2015 Budget that addresses tax payer concerns. The statement released:

The Fiscal Year 2015 Budget proposal is a critical step forward in order for us to improve vital taxpayer services and enforcement efforts. Funding the IRS a this level will be a good investment for the nation, helping taxpayers get the service they need and strengthening compliance efforts in key areas, including:
  • - Identity Theft 
  • - Refund Fraud 
  • - Offshore compliance. 
Every dollar invested in IRS enforcement provides a strong return on investment in revenue collection, plus an added protection in deterring potential fraud. It also halts the decline in key enforcement personnel, and allows the agency to again invest in necessary basic infrastructure and training. In the meantime, we continue looking for more efficiencies to get the most out of every dollar of the budget.

The Fiscal Year 2015 Budget will put a stop to significant declines in taxpayer service over the past four years. We are doing everything we can to maximize our services with our current resources, and IRS employees are working hard to minimize delays and deliver as much service as possible. However, it's clear we need to do more to help taxpayers, and the proposed seven percent increase for taxpayer services will be a big help.

The tax proposals in brief from the President's Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2015:
  • - Pro-growth infrastructure - Lays out an ambitious, four-year $302 billion surface transportation re-authorization proposal paid for with transition revenue from pro-growth business tax reform. 
  • - Tax cuts for working Americans - Doubles the maximum value of the childless worker EITC to build on the EITC's success in encouraging people to enter the workforce and reducing poverty; improves tax benefits that help middle-class and working families pay for child care and college and save for retirement. 
  • - Pro-growth tax reform - Curbs inefficient and unfair tax breaks that benefit the wealthiest, and ensures that everyone is paying their fair share 
The proposed budget provides a road map for accelerating economic growth, expanding opportunity for all Americans, and ensuring fiscal responsibility. It invests in infrastructure, job training, preschool, and pro-work tax cuts, while reducing deficits through health, tax, and immigration reform. For more info on the FY2015 Budget proposal visit:  The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2015
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What Is A Fiscal Year?

Determining when to file your Form 990 with Express990 depends on when you start your fiscal year. You would be surprised at how many different interpretations there are for a Fiscal Year. Even more confusing a fiscal year is not one established time frame for businesses, organizations, or the government. To best understand what a fiscal year is...let's get to the basics first then build a better understanding form there.

The Basics:
Fiscal Year - a 12-month period used by a government, business, or organization to calculate how much money is being earned, spent, etc. A fiscal year is sometimes referred to as a budget year. Fiscal years vary between businesses and countries. Nevertheless, the fiscal year is identical to the calendar year for about 65% of publicly traded companies in the United States.

Fiscal Year Fun Facts: 
  • - The first known fiscal year was in 1843. 
  • - Many universities have a fiscal year which ends during the summer, both to align the fiscal year with the school year because the school is normally less busy during the summer months.
  • - Some companies choose to end their fiscal year on the same day of the week, such day being the one closest to a particular date (ex. the Friday closest to December 31). Under such a system, some fiscal years will have 52 weeks and others 53 weeks.

Fiscal Year and the United States Government:
The United States federal government's fiscal year is a 12-month period beginning on October 1st and ending on September 30th of the following calendar year. The identification of a fiscal year is the calendar year in which it ends; thus, the current fiscal year is 2014 - shortened to FY2014. Prior to 1976, the fiscal year began on July 1st and ended June 30th of the following year.

To Sum It Up:
Just remember a fiscal year is any yearly period without regard to the calendar year, at the end of which a business, organization, government, etc., determines its financial condition.

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Tax-Exempt: How An Organization Applies For Tax Exempt Status

The process of applying for tax exempt status consists of 2 applications. Really only 1 if you already have an EIN, but we will get to that in a moment. First, you should know the difference between non-profit and tax-exempt status. Yes, there is a difference between non-profit and tax-exempt - who knew?

What is the difference?
Non-profit status is a state law concept. Non-profit status may make an organization eligible for certain benefits, such as state sales, property, and income tax exemptions.  
  • Important: Although most federal tax-exempt organizations are non-profit organizations, organizing as a non-profit organization at the state level does not automatically grant the organization exemption from federal income tax. 
To qualify as exempt from federal income tax, an organization must meet requirements set forth in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). - Side thought - The way the IRS talks about the Internal Revenue Code is reminiscent of how pirates refer to the Pirate Code in Pirates of the Caribbean; always stick to the code (insert dark ominous music). Moving on...

How does an organization become tax-exempt?
To be recognized as EXEMPT from federal income taxation, most organizations are required to apply for recognition of exemption. For Section 501(c)(3) organizations, listed in the IRC - aka The Code - the law provides only limited exceptions to this requirement. Applying for recognition of exemption results in formal IRS recognition of an organization's status, and may be preferable for that reason.

Organizations applying for tax-exempt status must submit 2 application:
  1. If an organization has not previously received an EIN, they must apply for one.
  2. To be recognized as exempt under section 501(a), most organizations must file an application for recognition of exemption with the IRS. Most organizations applying for exemption under section 501(a) (other than section 501(c)(3)) use Form 1024. Form 1024 has instructions and checklists to help you provide the information required to process your application. 
    • To be recognized as exempt under section 501(c)(3) use Form 1023. There is an interactive version that includes helpful hints and links to help applicants submit a complete application.
The IRS will recognize an organization as tax-exempt if it meets the requirements of the IRC.
See Types of Tax-Exempt Organizations and Publication 557, Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization for more info.

The IRS sometimes recognizes a group of organizations as tax-exempt if they are affiliated with a central organization. This avoids the needs for each organization to apply for exemption individually. A group exemption letter has the same effect as an individual letter except that it applies to more than one organization.

*The information listed above came from IRS.gov. If you are considering applying for tax-exempt status, be sure to consult your tax professional to help you navigate the Internal Revenue Code.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers related to e-filing IRS Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, 990-N (e-Postcard), Form 1120-POL and Extension Form 8868 with our Frequently Asked Questions.

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