ExpressTaxExempt Blog

Marketing with Photography: Telling Your Story

When it comes to marketing, photography is an often overlooked key factor.

How is that? Well, the human eye is naturally attracted to visual imagery.

While we’ve talked to you about social media, email, and video marketing—there’s a key factor we may have overlooked.

Want to engage with your audience on social media? Tell your stories with photographs!

How Can Photography Help?

Look for photogenic moments in your organization and at your events, and use these on social media.

Don’t post photos that have no story to them. If you’re gonna photograph people, make sure they’re standing in front of whatever your organization has accomplished (a habitat house, a food drive).

Don’t post every photograph you take. If you take 100 photos, a handful of them will be amazing photos. The rest can be saved for your archives, but less is definitely more.

As for pictures of your staff doing nothing—sure, your social media fans may know your staff, but if they’re not captivating your audience, don’t use them.

Telling Stories with Photography

So how can you tell stories with visuals?

According to John Haydon, the best way to tell stories is by using the very concept of storytelling: every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

A classic story will show progression, action, or change.

Haydon says there are four ways to select share-worthy images:

  1. Show Action: Photographs that show action are storytelling images. 
  2. Show Relationships: Photos with relationships are great at telling stories. If you’re photographing a dog adoption, and you see a happy dog with their happy owner—the story tells itself.
  3. Show Problems: When you show a problem, you’re telling a story. And this story inspires viewers to take part and become the happy ending. 
  4. Show Results: Photos that show the attainment of a goal tell the story from the finish line. Sometimes that's simply showing someone with a before and after of a medical procedure.

While you’re planning your storytelling photographs, start planning your Form 990 return. With the fast and easy e-filing at ExpressTaxExempt, you’ll never have to worry about confusing tax forms. If you have any questions about e-filing, call our support experts at 704.839.2321.

So ask yourself, what are your best photographable moments? How can you use these to share your stories?

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Deadline Day: Tax Exempt Extensions & Late Filing Penalties

Hope you’re having a great deadline day! Are you ready to e-file your Form 990 to the IRS?

No? Well, it’s pretty clear what you have to do.

You need to get a tax exempt extension with Form 8868!

How Do I Get an Extension?

You can use Form 8868 to apply for an additional, non-automatic 3-month extension if the original 3-month extension was not enough time.

To obtain this additional extension of time to file, the organization must show reasonable cause for the additional time requested.

What Are the Penalties for Late Filing?

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 IRS will impose a penalty of $20 per day for each day the return is late.

The maximum penalty is $10,000, or 5% of the organization's gross receipts, whichever is less.

The penalty increases to $100 per day, up to a maximum of $50,000, for an organization whose gross receipts exceed $1,000,000.

What Happens If I File the E-Postcard After the Deadline?

There is not a penalty associated with late filing the e-Postcard.

However, should you fail to file a return for 3 consecutive years, the IRS will revoke your tax-exempt status.

Automatic Revocation of Tax Exempt Status

So what exactly happens when you haven’t filed for 3 consecutive years?

When an organization loses tax exempt status, they must begin filing as a taxable organization with the IRS.

Any taxes owed by the organization from that period on may be subject to fees and penalties.

In the event you believe that your tax exempt status has been revoked, you should contact the IRS immediately for confirmation and to determine how you will need to reapply for tax exempt status.

So how do you find out if your tax exempt status was revoked? The IRS publishes a list of organizations that have had their federal tax exempt status revoked after failing to file their Form 990 for 3 consecutive years.

Our suggestion? If you’re not ready to file, go with Form 8868. Spend the next 3 to 6 months getting things ready, and then you can make sure you have everything right when you e-file Form 990.

Regardless, we’re here to help! If you have any questions about e-filing Form 990 or extension Form 8868, call the ExpressTaxExempt experts at 704.839.2321.

Happy e-filing, everybody!

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Form 990 for Hospitals

Did you know that there are nonprofit hospitals that need to e-file IRS Form 990?

Let’s figure this out together!

What Are Not-For-Profit Hospitals?

A nonprofit hospital, or not-for-profit hospital, is a hospital facility which is set up as a nonprofit organization. Since they are frequently affiliated with a religious denomination, based on a charitable purpose, and are a traditional means of delivering medical care in the United States, they can apply for tax exempt status.

Why Is It Necessary to Complete Schedule H and Form 990?

Hospital organizations use Form 990 and Schedule H to provide information on the activities, benefits, and policies of its hospital facilities and other non-hospital health care facilities that it operated during the tax year.

What Information Does Schedule H Cover?

  • Hospital facilities directly operated by the organization.
  • Hospital facilities operated by disregarded entities of which the organization is the sole member.
  • Other health care facilities and programs of the hospital organization or any of the entities described in 1 or 2, even if provided separately from the hospital's license.
  • Hospital facilities and other health care facilities and programs operated by any joint venture treated as a partnership, to the extent of the hospital organization's proportionate share of the joint venture.

Now that you know, all the hospitals out there can get ready for the upcoming Form 990 deadline!

If you need any help, ask the e-filing professionals of ExpressTaxExempt. They’re available 24/7 by email at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.

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What Is the Nonprofit Balance Sheet?

Wondering what the nonprofit balance sheet is?

There’s only one way to find out—by breaking it down beat by beat.

What Is a Nonprofit Balance Sheet?

The nonprofit balance sheet basically serves as a cross section that provides the most comprehensive photos of an organization’s financial situation.

Why Does the Balance Sheet Matter?

The balance sheet indicates an organization's liquidity by communication how much cash an organization has at present and what assets will soon be available in the form of cash.

What Is a Statement of Financial Position?

The statement of financial position used to be called the balance sheet. Even though the name has changed since the inception, the purpose of the statement of financial position (SOP) hasn’t. Basically, it exists as any business balance sheet or statement of personal net worth.

What the SOP accounts for:

  • Assets: Assets are basically what is owned by the tax exempt organization. They are what your organization has, what others owe you, and what you have invested in. 
  • Liabilities: Liabilities are what your organization owes to others or holds on behalf of others.
  • Net Assets: Net Assets are also called equity, capital, retained earnings, or fund balance. The net assets of a nonprofit organization should be equivalent to the net worth of the organization.

What Is the Statement of Activities?

The statement of activities used to be called the income statement, and many nonprofit organizations produce a variety of versions of this report. These have been called budget reports, profit & loss reports, or income and expense reports.

No matter what the name is, the statement of financial activities (SOA) shows the nonprofit organization’s income and expenses for a specific period of time.

That’s pretty much the gist of it!

If you have any questions for the upcoming Form 990 deadline, our dedicated tax filing experts of ExpressTaxExempt will be here to help you! You can reach them by email at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com or by phone at 704.839.2321.

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Form 990 for PTAs & PTOs

Wondering how PTAs and PTOs can make use of Form 990?

Here’s the considerations for Form 990 and Parent Teacher Associations and Parent Teacher Organizations.

Difference between PTA & PTO

The National PTA is a formal membership organization headquartered in Chicago with a 105-year history of working for children. Local groups that choose to belong to the PTA must pay dues to state and national organizations and abide by the rules set by those.

PTO is a more generic term. It usually represents the thousands of groups that remain independent of the PTA.

Responsibilities of PTA

PTA is committed to advocacy on behalf of all the children in the nation. The official PTA’s motto is “Every child. One voice.” PTA aims to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.

Exempt status & filing requirements

The official PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association. A PTA starts local units through state-level associations. Each local unit is an independent nonprofit and is set up in accordance with state and federal laws.

PTOs can be started by anyone, but will need to go through their own process to become tax exempt.

If you have any questions about filing Form 990 for your PTA or PTO, reach out to the e-filing experts at ExpressTaxExempt by phone at 704.839.2321 or by email at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.

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Form 990 for Churches

What’s the deal with churches and Form 990?

We’re gonna run you through the basics. Try to keep up, there’s a quiz afterward!

Churches and Associations of Churches

Small tax-exempt organizations that have less than or equal to $50,000 gross receipts are required to file a Form 990-N (e-Postcard) every year. You know this already.

But there are exceptions to this rule. For example, churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches aren’t required to file.

Affiliation with the Churches

In order for an exemption to remain, your church has to have the majority control or be the majority financial supporter of its integrated auxiliaries’ governance.

If your church financially invests only 25% into an auxiliary group, that program or group will still have to annually file if they want a tax-exempt status.

It doesn’t matter that program or group is in direct affiliation with your church.

Integrated Auxiliaries

In the IRS Publication 1828, Churches and Religious Organizations (PDF link), you can find information about an integrated auxiliary of a church.

What you’ll want to find is how affiliation can be recognized by the IRS through facts and circumstances other than a church's majority control over the auxiliary's governing body.

Unrelated Business Income

For most organizations, an activity is an unrelated business, and subject to unrelated business income tax, if it meets three requirements: It is a trade or business, it is regularly carried on, and it is not substantially related to furthering the exempt purpose of the organization.

Filing Requirements & Group Returns

If it is required to file an annual return, the organization must file its own separate return but may also file a group return on behalf of some or all of its subordinates.

What is a group exemption? It allows the central or parent organization to confirm that its subordinates are eligible for exemption and to include each subordinate under its cover for tax-exempt purposes.

Ready for the quiz? Well, we’ll let you off easy this time.

If you have any questions, call our e-filing experts at 704.839.2321.

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How ExpressTaxExempt Is Different from the Others

Alright, every Form 990 e-filing service is probably the same, right?

WRONG. Other companies might offer some kind of nonprofit tax service, but we’re the only one with these key features.

So what sets ExpressTaxExempt apart from other 990 filing services?

Cloud Based Software

First off, we’re the premier cloud based solution for tax exempt organizations.

Instead of downloading bulky software or cumbersome forms to print out, we keep everything in the cloud.

That’s right, you can just boot up your web browser, log in, and get to e-filing!

You can’t beat that now, can you? Plus you can access it from anywhere.

Interview Style Software

With our interview style e-filing method, you will never have to worry about the errors of paper filing.

Paper cuts, whiteout, snail mail—these are all things of the past now that we’re making e-filing even easier.

When you don’t have to memorize every line on Form 990, it gets easier to take care of your return.

Then you can worry about what really matters—helping others.

Secure Software

Did you know that we implement a highly advanced security enhancement for ExpressTaxExempt?

We have taken every possible step to make sure we keep our website safe and secure. Our site is encrypted, Comodo HackerSafe certified and protected by SSL/TLS AES 256 bit encryption.

Don’t worry, your information goes directly to the IRS and no one else!

If you have any questions about the features we offer around here, feel free to email our customer support crew at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.

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Form 990 for Social Welfare Organizations

Do social welfare organizations need to e-file IRS Form 990?

Yes! And we’re here to cover the bases.

What Is a Social Welfare Organization?

In order to be considered a social welfare organization classified as tax exempt under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 501(c)(4), an organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare.

What Is the Purpose of a Social Welfare Organization?

Well, basically they need to operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community. This is usually by bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.

What Is the IRC Section 501(c)(4)?

The Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4) provides for the exemption of two very different types of organizations with their own distinct qualification requirements. They need to be social welfare organizations or local associations of employees.

What Differs Between Community and Private Benefit?

Basically, the earnings of a section 501(c)(4) organization may not benefit any private shareholder or individual. If the organization earns excess profits with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax might be imposed on the person or organization.

There is one exception, though. If an organization is seeking legislation germane to their program, it is a permissible means of attaining more income for social welfare purposes.

This allows a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization to further its exempt purposes through lobbying without jeopardizing its exempt status.

If you have any questions about your social welfare organization and e-filing Form 990, reach out to our customer service experts by phone at 704.839.2321 or by email at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.

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Audit Check: E-File Your IRS 990 Without Mistakes

Is there anything worse than filing a time consuming tax form, like Form 990, only to find out you’ve made a mistake?

Even worse is finding out you’re getting audited from that mistake! Sheesh!

Here at ExpressTaxExempt, we pride ourselves on the lengths we go to keep our customers free from the headaches of audits.

Before submitting your 990 to the IRS, we will do an audit check and help you find any errors BEFORE the 990 return is e-filed.

That way, you can fix the errors before transmitting Form 990 to the IRS.

We even extend this guarantee to our 990-N e-Postcard filers!

If we don’t find any errors on your return, you will be able to process and transmit your 990 series return electronically to the IRS.

If you have any questions about e-filing Form 990, contact one of our dedicated customer support experts at 704.839.2321.

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Fundraising Events: What You Need to Know

We know many tax-exempt organizations rely on fundraising to accomplish their mission, but how many utilize fundraising events?

We’re bringing you information about fundraising events for your nonprofit to consider.

What Is a Fundraising Event?

A fundraising event is one of the most popular forms of fundraising. While these events can make plenty of money for an organization, they are also time consuming and can be expensive. With careful planning, you can have a very successful fundraising event.

How Can I Balance Income and Expenses of a Fundraiser?

Well, for starters, all proceeds and costs related to hosting fundraising events are included as fundraising in your records.

Donors want to know how much of their contribution is being used and what it is going towards. They do not want to find that their contribution is just being used for more fundraising.

So it is important for an organization to monitor how much is being spent on fundraising compared to what it brings in and what it spends on programs.

A general guideline to follow is for 75% of collected revenue to be used towards the cost of programs.

Can I Fundraise Without Feeling Pushy?

It’s better to let donors realize they care than it is to force them to care.

Know your donors, read their minds. Practice, communicate, and don’t surprise them!

Also, asking for a specific amount can simplify the process. Leaving it open might overwhelm your donors.

Are There Professional Fundraising Services?

There are professional fundraising services you can seek out, but they do collect fees, often from the money collected.

Professional fundraising services are not the same as an employee or partner in charge of fundraising within the organization.

What Schedule Needs to Be Attached for Fundraising?

Schedule G is used to report fundraising services, events, and gaming.

An organization that answered “Yes” to Form 990, Part IV, Checklist of Required Schedules, line 17, 18, or 19, or meets the criteria for Form 990-EZ filers described below, must complete the appropriate parts of Schedule G (Form 990 or 990-EZ) and attach Schedule G to Form 990 or Form 990-EZ.

As always, ExpressTaxExempt will be here to offer you any assistance. Shoot us an email at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com if you need any questions answered.

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Public Charity vs Private Foundation

What differentiates a public charity from a private foundation?

We hear this question quite often, so let’s break it down.

What's the Difference?

First, public charities:

  • Are churches, hospitals, or qualified medical research organizations affiliated with hospitals, schools, colleges and universities,
  • Have an active program of fundraising and receive contributions from many sources, including the general public, governmental agencies, corporations, private foundations or other public charities,
  • Receive income from the conduct of activities in furtherance of the organization’s exempt purposes, or
  • Actively function in a supporting relationship to one or more existing public charities.

In contrast, private foundations usually have a single major source of funding, typically gifts from one family or corporation rather than funding from many sources. Most private foundations make grants to other charitable organizations and individuals as their primary activity, rather than the direct operation of charitable programs.

What Is Schedule A?

If an organization falls into the following three categories, they will need to use Schedule A. If an organization is described in section 501(c)(3) and is a public charity: it is described in sections 501(e), (f), (j), (k), or (n): or it is a nonexempt charitable trust described in section 4947(a)(1) that is not treated as a private foundation.

If an organization isn’t required to file Schedule A and decides to fill it out, they must complete the full schedule with all of the information required.

Can You Explain Public Support?

If an organization receives more than 10% but less than 33 and ⅓% of its support from the general public or a governmental unit, it can qualify as a public charity. It is up to the charity to establish that it normally receives a substantial part of its support from governmental units or the general public.

And that, in a nutshell, is the difference between public charities and private foundations.

Hope this clears things up! If you have any other questions, reach out to ExpressTaxExempt at 704.839.2321.

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Can Form 990 Be a Marketing Tool?

If you’re running a nonprofit organization, you might be dreading the next few weeks. Why?

Well, because it’s that time of year when you have to file your Form 990 return!

Instead of letting your heart fill with dread, instead ask yourself if you can use Form 990 to your advantage. Instead of seeing it as just another tax form, look at it like an opportunity where you can tell your story and draw in more donors.

That’s right, with a little planning, you can use Form 990 as a marketing tool.

Post Form 990 Online

By sharing your tax return with your donors and the general public, you show that you are transparent.

You also present the facts about how your organization has helped. Nothing is better than cold hard data!

Your Form Tells a Story

Instead of using a generic summary, your organization can impress audiences with their story!

With thoughtfully written descriptions of your organization, their goals, and their accomplishments, you’ll be able to cast your own light on your organization.

Just make sure you’re truthful and accurate! Schedule O also allows for additional details, and you can always list the organization’s website.

Make It Look Good

It’s not only important for your story to shine, you also need to make sure your answers and numbers are good.

For an accurately completed Form 990, you need to avoid unrelated revenues, lobbying, loans and business transactions with insiders, and untruthful answers (for example, the questions in Part V).

As far as errors go, ExpressTaxExempt checks your return for filing errors before transmitting to the IRS.

Pass the Test

Every tax exempt organization must demonstrate that it continues to meet the requirements set under section 501(c)(3). In Schedule A, organizations have to classify as a Public Charity or a Private Foundation.

If they’re a public charity, they need to pass one of 2 tests.

The first test states that your organization receives substantial support in contributions from publicly supported organizations, governmental units, or from the general public.

The second test states that your organization receives no more than one-third of its support from gross investment income, and more than one-third from contributions, membership fees, and gross receipts from exempt-related activities.

So when you’re ready to file Form 990, you’re going to want to save time on the difficulties of paperwork so you can get your story across.

Start by e-filing Form 990 with ExpressTaxExempt, the premier filing solution for tax exempt organizations. With bulk uploading, multi-user access, and help available by email and phone, we’ll help you get through the tough stuff.

Can your organization’s Form 990 become a marketing tool?
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Warning: The Tax Exempt Deadline Approaches!

It’s that time of year again! The time when rain showers lead to blooming flowers, when kids anticipate summer vacation, and when nonprofits and tax-exempt organizations scramble to find CPAs to file their taxes.

That’s right, it’s May! Which means there’s a tax exempt deadline right around the corner!

More specifically, on the fifteenth day of the fifth month, tax exempt organizations must file Form 990, the Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax.

When’s that Deadline?

Since the deadline should be the fifteenth day, but that is a Sunday, the actual deadline falls on May 16th.

That is, there’s a deadline for any tax exempt organization that runs on a calendar year (January 1st through December 31st).

If you’re on your own fiscal year, your deadline is still the fifteenth day of the fifth month after your tax period ends.

Types of 990 Forms

Form 990-N (e-Postcard): You may only file an e-Postcard if you have an organization that makes $50,000 or less a year in gross receipts. Exceptions to this requirement include:

  • Organizations that are included in a group return.
  • Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches.
  • Organizations required to file a different return.

Form 990-EZ: You can use this form if your gross receipts are less than $200,000 or total assets are less than $500,000. Schedules are a vital part of Form 990-EZ, allowing the filer to go into further detail on its reason for being tax-exempt. Each schedule is designed to provide specific information on certain activities.

Form 990: This form must be filed by an organization exempt from income tax under section 501(a) (including an organization that has not applied for recognition of exemption) if it has either gross receipts greater than or equal to $200,000 or total assets greater than or equal to $500,000 at the end of the tax year. Form 990 also uses schedules.

Why You Should E-file

Want to save time? Want to reduce errors? Want to avoid paper cuts? If you answered yes to these questions, you should e-file your Form 990 tax exempt returns.

Instead of going through piles of paper forms, ExpressTaxExempt walks you through an interview-style form that simplifies and streamlines your filing.

Also, we offer the 990, the 990-EZ, and the 990-N, so you can bet that we provide a tax filing option for your nonprofit.

We also provide tax-exempt return extensions and error checks (on our end), as well as bulk file uploading, and multi-user access. Basically, we’re trying to make the whole process easier.

Best of all, smaller nonprofits and exempt organizations can file the 990-N (the e-Postcard) FREE for the current year!

So when you’re gathering your records and getting ready to file your Form 990, head over to ExpressTaxExempt and create a free account. We won’t charge you until you’re ready to e-file!

If you have any questions about your 990 form, your friendly and dedicated customer support staff will be here to answer by email 24/7 at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com, or by phone at 704.839.2321.

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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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