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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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