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ExpressTaxExempt Blog

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nonprofit Showcase: Carolina Poodle Rescue

In the world of nonprofits, we find ourselves drawn to many causes. For a select few in the Carolinas, they have felt the call to help rescue poodles and other small dogs that have no home, have been abused, and those that simply need some extra care.

At the Carolina Poodle Rescue, you find a passionate network of volunteers who dedicated their time to transport, sponsor, support, and adopt poodles into loving homes.

Carolina Poodle Rescue’s Mission


  • To rescue, rehabilitate, offer permanent sanctuary and, when appropriate, rehome needy poodles and small dogs.
  • To encourage the human-animal bond by promoting activities that serve to bring animals and their people closer together.
  • To support the efforts of those in the animal rescue community seeking to end euthanasia as a means of population control.

As a no-kill, limited-entry private rescue group, Carolina Poodle Rescue believes and supports the No More Homeless Pets and spay/neuter initiatives. As a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, they are supported by that passionate volunteer network we mentioned earlier.

Before being placed, any animals adopted from Carolina Poodle Rescue are spayed or neutered. When CPR receives an application, they interview the candidates, tour their home, check references, and make sure that it’s a safe bet for one of their dogs.

With a detailed waiting list of homes and families, Carolina Poodle Rescue is able to rehome a large number of pets throughout the year.

The efforts of Carolina Poodle Rescue are are funded solely through adoption fees and donations, which is wild when you think they go through about 2,000 lbs of dry dog food in any given month!

Carolina Poodle Rescue truly believes in its mission, and even supports a number of unhoused rescues that can’t find a home due to age, health, or medical needs.

This blogger even knows of one poodle who was successfully rehoused from CPR. He’s about 15 lbs and hasn’t left my lap since arriving in our house this summer. My family was pleased with the fact that CPR took the time to match a dog to our lifestyle and needs. Thanks, Carolina Poodle Rescue!

Wally the Poodle - Adopted from Carolina Poodle Rescue

Whether your organization rescues dogs, cats, goats, or horses, you can find the right tax exempt return at ExpressTaxExempt. If you run into any questions filing your organization’s 990 series return, reach out to our support experts at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com or 704.839.2321.

Looking for a new dog? I suggest filling out an application at Carolina Poodle Rescue!




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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How Can You Take Donations to the Next Level?

Let’s face it, fundraising isn’t easy. Simply getting your audience to the donate can be a struggle for many nonprofit and tax exempt organizations.

So how can you optimize your approach to fundraising? Well, come up with a plan to take your donations to the next level!

You Need Online Donations

First up, you need to start accepting donations online. Even if you feel better with the old school methods, you need to consider online donations. Why? Because the whole world is mobile—and the easier it is, the more people are eager to give. And nothing is easier than using your phone or laptop to donate.

So make sure you have a website, and use social media, email, and video production to bring your donors to your website! It all works together, really.


Communication for Donations

After you have your page designed, implement your email marketing strategy to direct donors to your site. We’ve told you about email before, and stand by those marketing basics.

Mixed together with social media, you’ll be able to direct increased traffic towards and hopefully donations to your site.

But don’t abandon all of your traditional methods—a direct mail campaign that advertises your web presence is a good mix of traditional and cutting edge. It’s best to use both to reach your audience!


Advanced Tip: Landing Pages

Your website might be awesome, but if you utilize a landing page, you can customize the experience even more for your donors. So what should you do? Customize a single page with a short donation form and passionate copy with a call to action. REMEMBER—Minimalism is best, so avoid heavy graphics, web videos, or any other distractions.

Let’s face it, some things will work and some won’t. Instead of doubling down on one strategy, you should implement A/B testing to make sure that your fundraising efforts aren’t wasted!

Test your landing page by creating two pages that are near identical, but with different calls to action. Monitor which CTA produces better conversion rates, and then you know that is the right direction. Take the foundations of the more successful page, and then create another page expanding that idea. Keep testing and watch your conversion rates increase!

Once you have your donations coming in, head over to ExpressTaxExempt and create a free account. While Form 990 might not be due for a few more months, it’s never too early to work on your recordkeeping, e-file last year’s 990, or even just keep track of donors.

If you have any questions, our dedicated customer support team is here and ready to help, by phone at 704.839.2321 and by email at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

What are your advanced marketing tips?


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Thursday, March 24, 2016

REVOKED! Reinstating Your Tax Exempt Status


Last time we discussed what to do if you file your Form 990 series return late, and briefly touched upon what to do if you lose tax exempt status.

Now, we’re going to peel back the layers a bit more and get into the steps for reinstating revoked tax exempt status.

So You've Been Revoked

How do nonprofit organizations lose their tax exempt status? The easiest way is failing to file Form 990 for three consecutive years. That leads to you ending up on the Exempt Organization Select Check list published every month by the IRS.

The good news? You can search the EO Select Check list for your Employer Identification Number to find out if you’ve been revoked! The list is updated monthly, and features the name, EIN, organization type, last known address the organization provided to the IRS, effective date of revocation, and the date the organization was added to the list.

How to Get Reinstated

If an organization wants to get their tax exempt status reinstated, they must file a new application for exemption and pay the appropriate user fee.

The IRS then determines if the organization meets the requirements, and can issue a new determination letter.

The IRS will also include the reinstated organization in the next update of EO Select Check and indicate in other publications (like the Business Master File).

In most situations, the effective date of reinstated exemption is the date the current application was submitted, but organizations can request for a retroactive reinstatement.

Can You Get Retroactive Reinstatement?

But retroactive reinstatements have limited circumstances attached to them, and it is up to the organization to supply the IRS with the needed information.

To request reinstatement back to the date of automatic revocation, organizations need to attach a letter to the application for reinstatement explaining why they failed to file required returns for three consecutive years.

After that, the IRS will determine if your organization had a reasonable cause for not filing your return for three years.

Once you’re reinstated, you need to keep up to date on your tax exempt returns! When you e-file your Form 990 series return with ExpressTaxExempt, you can expect a secure, easy-to-use system designed to have you done in no time.

If you have any questions about e-filing, contact us by phone at 704.839.2321 or by email at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.

For more tax breakdowns, marketing tips, and nonprofit trends, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!


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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Form 990 Rejection: Surviving Bumps in the Road

Everything is going great—your nonprofit is growing in the community, volunteers are showing up for events, and you see people are getting the help they need. But then it happens. A bump in the road.

Your Form 990 return is rejected by the IRS.

What do you do? Who do you turn to? Well, you trusted us with video production, social media, and email marketing, so trust us when we tell you this isn’t the end. Take a deep breath, exhale, and keep reading.

First up, let’s examine Form 990 rejection:

  • This may sound obvious, but you need to obtain tax exempt status from the IRS before filing Form 990. If you try to file without tax exempt status, you will be rejected. You can get tax exempt status by filing Forms 1023 or 1024.
  • If you’ve already applied for exempt status as a 501(c)(3), your return may be rejected by the IRS unless you check the applicable option.
  • If you file your Form 990 return with the incorrect tax period for your organization, the IRS will reject it. This is a pretty common error! Many organizations believe they run on a calendar tax year, even though they don’t. Don’t know your operating period? You’ll have to contact the IRS to find it out.
  • If your tax exempt organization hasn’t filed for three consecutive years, the IRS can cancel your status. Not only will your 990 be rejected in this case, but you’ll also need to re-file a Form 1023 or 1024.

So what do you do if your 990 is rejected? Well, if you filed with ExpressTaxExempt, we will notify you right away if your form was rejected, explaining the reason so you can quickly correct any needed information.

After the corrections are made, you can re-transmit your return at no extra cost!

So what do you do if you’ve lost your status as a nonprofit? Your tax exempt organization will need to apply to have their tax-exempt status reinstated, even if you were not originally required to file an application.

What Do You Do If You Lose Tax Exempt Status?

You need to get it back, come on! To do this, you simply need to apply for tax exemption recognition by filing Form 1023, Form 1024, or a letter if applying under a different Code section, regardless of whether the organization was originally required to apply for exemption. Finally, you need to pay the appropriate user fee.


Want to reduce the chance of 990 rejections? By e-filing with ExpressTaxExempt, you replace the confusing and frustrating tax forms with the streamlined e-filing process of ETE.


If you run into any questions while e-filing, give our awesome customer support team a call at 704.839.2321. They can also be reached by email at support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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Friday, March 18, 2016

How to Start a Nonprofit: The Road to 501(C)(3)


It’s human nature to want to help your fellow man. And maybe you’ve been fostering an idea of how you can help, but don’t know what to do. There are a few ways to approach this. One way is to jump right in and do it, without much of a plan. Your other option is to treat the whole process like you’re starting a business.

So take your idea for a nonprofit or tax exempt organization, and ask yourself—what are my next steps? What is my plan?

Ask Yourself, Is This Necessary?

Your first step is to explore the necessity for your nonprofit. Is this organization idea unique enough to have legs? Are there existing organizations that already cover this need? Do people really need this charitable service? How are needs being overlooked? Would this be better as a business instead of a nonprofit? Once you’ve covered your bases, you can move forward.

Next, you want to create the logistics of your nonprofit. This includes a mission statement, a business plan, and your governing board. These will help you communicate your organization's mission, plan the details of this venture, and create the basic roles within your team. Structuring your organization will give your nonprofit credibility, limit liability, and create organized documentation and policies which will make your IRS filing easier.

Apply for Nonprofit Status With Form 1023

Next, you need to file Form 1023 to get 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

There are a few key requirements for an organization to be exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3):

  • First, the nonprofit organization must be organized as a corporation, trust, or an unincorporated association, with its organization document defining the organization's purpose(s), and the organization must also permanently dedicate its assets to exempt purposes.
  • It must also be operated to further one or more of the exempt purposes stated in its organization document.

Organizations that are eligible to file Form 1023 for recognition of exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code range from churches to schools and even hospitals.

After that, you simply need to keep organized, perform your charitable duties, and stay compliant!

Staying Compliant With Form 990

How do you stay compliant? Well, ExpressTaxExempt is the simplest solution for e-filing Form 990, Form 990-EZ, and Form 990-N (the e-Postcard). With our bulk uploading feature, multi-user accessibility, and the ability to share your return for review, we have the most bang for your nonprofit’s buck.

How do you e-file your Form 990? Watch this!




If you run into any problems e-filing your 990 series return, our friendly customer support team is ready to answer your questions! You can reach them by phone at 704.839.2321, or by live chat on our site.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Make Your Deadline Day Historic

Do you ever wonder about major events that happened this day in history?

Remember the Ides of March? If you were Julius Caesar you might—alright, maybe not. He didn’t survive the Ides back in 44 B.C., after all. And later on this day in 1493 A.D., Christopher Columbus returns to Spain after his voyage to the New World. His paperwork must have been terrible!

Your paperwork doesn’t have to be, though. It’s time for you to make history! Today is your day—e-file your Form 990 tax exempt return with ExpressTaxExempt and make history within your organization.

What makes this historic? Well, you’ll be done in no time. Your board will be blown away by such efficiency. With our fast and easy interview style format, you simply need to enter the information and click next! We’ll do the rest on the backend of our system, and you can get back to your nonprofit’s mission.

Of course, today isn’t a deadline day for everybody. The rule states that you have a deadline the 15th day of the 5th month after your tax period ends. If you’re on a fiscal year that ended in November, you’re responsible for a return today! Of course, you can always extend your return.

Over at ExpressExtension, you can e-file Form 8868, granting your organization an automatic 3-month extension of time. After you file for the first 3 months, you can file for an additional, non-automatic 3-month extension from a previously filed Form 8868.

If you’re on a calendar tax year, don’t worry! You won’t have to deal with the tax exempt organization return and extension deadline until May 15th!

Before you can file your extension, you need:
  • Your organization name
  • Address
  • EIN (Employer Identification Number) / FEIN
  • Estimated amount of tax owed to the IRS if any
  • The tax form that you normally file your income tax returns on (for example 990-EZ)

By the way, It is important that this information matches what the IRS has on your records! Accuracy is key! If you file Form 990-N (the e-Postcard), then you do not qualify for a tax exempt extension! But you can e-file FREE for the current year at ExpressTaxExempt.

Speaking of tax extensions, ExpressExtension offers personal, business, and nonprofit tax extensions that can be e-filed in moments at a great price point. No matter what you do, there’s a tax extension for you. But hurry up, March 15th is also the business tax extension deadline!

If you run into any complications with your nonprofit extensions and Form 990 series return filing, reach out to our customer support team at 704.839.2321, or by email at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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Thursday, March 10, 2016

What is the Public Charity Support Test?

As a publicly funded organization, there are many trials and tribulations out there for a tax exempt organizations and nonprofits. We’ve covered how you can get more donations and how to get more volunteers, but what other challenges await you? One such is the Public Support Test from the IRS.

What Does It Mean When You Fail to Meet a Public Support Test?

Let’s establish what the public support test is first. After your organization has been active for five years, the IRS will monitor the organization’s public charity status based on the public support information reported annually on Schedule A. After the first five years, the support test kicks in.

According to the IRS, for an organization to qualify as a publicly supported organization under section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi), either:
  • 33% or more of its total support must come from governmental agencies, contributions from the general public, and contributions or grants from other public charities; or 
  • 10% or more of its total support must come from governmental agencies, contributions from the general public, and contributions or grants from other public charities and the facts and circumstances indicate it is a publicly supported organization.


The support test is based on a five-year computation period, consisting of the current year and the four years immediately before this one. If your organization meets the public support test for a tax year, it is treated as a publicly supported charity for that year and the succeeding year, regardless of its actual support for the succeeding year.

Losing Tax Exempt Status

There’s a chance an organization may have lost its tax exempt status without knowing. That’s why we suggest you keep track of and monitor your returns, so you don’t unexpectedly lose your status.

An organization will not meet either of these public support tests if almost all of their support comes from gross receipts from related activities. Public charities need to have an insignificant amount of its support come from governmental units and contributions made directly or indirectly by the general public. If a public charity fails the test, it would then be considered a private charity.

The good news is that here at ExpressTaxExempt, we can get you e-filing Form 990 and 990-EZ in no time. Just make sure you have your records of the last 5 years, and we can get you squared away with Schedule A.

If you run into any issues e-filing Form 990, reach out to our dedicated customer service team, who will gladly answer any of your questions. With live chat, 24/7 support email, and phone support at 704.839.2321, our customer service team is ready to help!




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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How to Invite Users to Review Your Organization's Return

As deadlines approach, you might find yourself needing to share your Form 990 series return with someone on your board of directors, and you don’t want to share your own ExpressTaxExempt login. Well, we’ve added a new feature that simplifies this whole process!


With our new Manage Reviewers and Approvers feature, you’re just a few clicks away from inviting users to review your tax exempt organization's return.

When you start on your dashboard, click on the tab that says My Account. From there, scroll down and click on Manage Reviewers and Approvers.

In order to share your return with another person, click on the Add User button. You’ll be prompted to enter the user’s information, like their name, email address, and phone number, as well as the tax year of the return, in order to proceed. After that, you just need to click Share Return, and the invitation is sent.

After your click share, an email that contains a secure link and login credentials to the shared viewing portal are then sent to the intended user. To continue, the user will need their credentials, and they’ll be prompted to change their password upon signing in. The user will have as much access to the return as you granted within the invitation. After logging in, the user can view the return, and add their own comments and corrections for the main user’s reviewal.

Not only can the reviewing user add comments, they also have the option to download Form 990 for further review. If you simply require a signature, users can e-sign the return straight from ExpressTaxExempt.

Still confused? We’ve covered the basics in this video!



And if you share your Form 990 series return and your reviewer gives you enough comments and corrections to set you back, e-file for an automatic 3-month extension of time to file with Form 8868, the application for extension of time to file an exempt organization return.

If you or your reviewers have any questions about the Manage Reviewers and Approvers feature, call us at 704.839.2321, live chat with us from our website, or send us an email.




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Friday, March 4, 2016

3 Ways Nonprofits Can Avoid Late Filing Penalties

We know as well as anybody that keeping track of deadlines can be a chore. It’s pretty simple, after your tax year ends, you file your return the 15th day of the 5th month after. Say what?

Okay, if you’re confused, don’t worry. It happens to the best of us.

But we should probably examine the stakes at hand. I mean, what are the late filing penalties for nonprofits and tax exempt organizations?

Let’s use the words of the IRS themselves:
If an organization whose gross receipts are less than $1,000,000 for its tax year files its Form 990 after the due date (including any extensions), and the organization doesn't provide reasonable cause for filing late, the Internal Revenue Service will impose a penalty of $20 per day for each day the return is late.

From there, your maximum penalty is $10,000, or 5% of the organization's gross receipts. It depends on which is less, really. The penalty then reaches $100 per day, and can reach up to $50,000 if your nonprofit grosses receipts above $1,000,000. If you fail to file the required information return for three consecutive tax years, you will lose your tax exempt status.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather avoid that. All of it.

So how do you avoid late filing penalties? Try following these steps.

Start early with ExpressTaxExempt

Instead of waiting until the last minute, create your account and start filing now. Even if your deadline is May 15th, you can start gathering your important records and entering valuable information now.

Give Multiple Users Access

With the ability to invite multiple users to the account, you can hand off your tax filing duties to a financial professional, a filing expert, or even a dedicated member of your team. As the main user, you have the ability to create sub-users and grant editing permissions to these users.

Manage Reviewers and Approvers

Do you have to present your return to a board of directors before you can actually file it? With the Manage Reviewers and Approvers feature, you can share Form 990 through a secure link with your investors, board of directors, or anybody who matters with just a few clicks.

Bottom line, planning and preparation are key. Going into your tax deadline with a gameplan will save you, your investors, and the people you help a lot of trouble. I mean, we’ve made Form 990 as easy as can be—so don’t miss the opportunity!

If you have any questions about these features, contact us by phone at 704.839.2321 to reach our dedicated support team. And follow our Twitter and Facebook to keep up with upcoming filing deadlines!


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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Want Volunteers? Reach out to Students


So you’re sending out killer emails, drawing in both donations and traffic to your social media channels. Things are looking up for your growing nonprofit—but what if you need more volunteers to achieve your mission? Sure, you can use these same methods to call people to action, but there is another approach you can consider.

Looking for a new volunteer pool to dip into? Have you considered the student population?

Students are Natural Helpers

Why students? First, understand why you can consider the local student population a great volunteer resource. Educational facilities like colleges, high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools typically have good reasons to promote volunteerism.

For younger students, expect a structured volunteer system set up by teachers and parents. As students reach high school and college, they are sometimes promoted to volunteer on their own time and in student run organizations.

Understanding Student Volunteers

Why would a student want to volunteer? Yes, most people volunteer to help. For a student, they might have a grade attached to their drive. Don't’ let that dissuade you, though, because help is help! Apart from academics, sometimes participating in Greek Life requires students to volunteer, so find your local university and see how fraternities and sororities can help. For an academic approach, contact professors and instructors who can work assignments into volunteering.

When you’re dealing with student volunteers, we suggest implementing that social media campaign we talked about. Since students have a heavy social media presence, tap into that with your own customized hashtag. Hey, you might even inspire your next batch of volunteers that way!

Make Volunteering Fun

And whatever you do, make sure you keep your volunteer events fun and lively! If you’re on a campus, give out free stuff and mimic a festival atmosphere if possible. You can give out things like t-shirts, Frisbees, water bottles, or anything that you can support your cause with.

Don’t forget, any event you plan, you will want to capture with video. Still don’t have a video plan? Check and see if the school you’re working with has any budding videographers willing to volunteer their services! Grab some interviews with students from before they volunteered, during their events, and afterward and you will have some killer promotional material!

So start Googling your local colleges, and look for their student outreach programs! After you raise all those funds, be sure to e-file your tax exempt returns with ExpressTaxExempt! We offer Form 990 long, Form 990-N (e-Postcard), and Form 990-EZ. We even offer tax extension Form 8868, for nonprofits that need some more time!

Questions? Contact our dedicated support team in Rock Hill, SC by phone at 704.839.2321, live chat on our website, and by email at support@expresstaxexempt.com.


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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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