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ExpressTaxExempt Blog

Thursday, September 29, 2016

3 Keys to Gain More Donors

3 Keys to Gain More Donors
3 Keys to Gain More Donors
In the nonprofit industry, it’s standard practice to request for donations or contributions - and there are many ways to secure supporters. One way that’s least chosen by small organizations is cringe-worthy persuasion.

When thinking about persuasion, most of us picture being sold something by any means necessary - or someone overly aggressive and a bit sleazy. But mainly, persuasion is getting someone to believe in something as much as you do.

And we persuade more than we probably think - any time you casually talk about your organization to someone, when explaining what you do, or when you acquire volunteers and members. Keep these three keys in mind the next time you need potential donors to become believers.

Convey Your Faith & Purpose

Remember your reasons for starting your nonprofit or charitable organization. Why do you want to make a difference or leave an impact? There clearly has to be a love or passion for the goals your organization is attempting to achieve. You don’t necessarily need to be extremely eager or excited, but understand that people can sense when you’re speaking with genuine interest rather than regurgitating facts.

Utilize the Three Cs

To keep your conversation on track, remember to be clear, concise, and calm - the three Cs. Consistency is important here - you’ll lose your potential donor by contradicting something you said earlier. Refrain from over sharing anything that doesn’t drive your point, and if you happen to be shy or an introvert, practice a few times until the process becomes natural.

Aim Beyond Donations

When speaking about your exempt organization, donations should be the bonus - not the goal. Your objective should be to get the donor enthusiastic about your nonprofit as much as you are. Nonprofits typically establish and maintain relationships with potential donors - you might not get that check right after the first meeting, but in the long run, the money will come as others begin to believe in you more.

After you’ve built donor relationships and start receiving donations, visit us at ExpressTaxExempt.com where you can enter or bulk upload your list of contributions, gifts, and grants. According to the IRS, you must report donations greater or equal to $5,000 on your IRS Form 990/990-EZ - you also need to submit donor information such as name and address for each contribution you report.

Our U.S. - based, customer support team are available to assist you with contributions or any other questions about the e-filing process. Give us a call at 704.839.2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. You can also contact us via email with support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Don’t Get Revoked! Retain Your Tax-Exempt Status

For exempt organizations, the IRS requires that you file a tax return each year that reports your total revenue, total expenses, and activities. You submit these annual tax returns based on your gross receipts:

Keep Your Exempt Status
The easiest way to maintain your organization’s tax-exempt status is to file your mandatory 990 form each and every year. Even if you miss the deadline, which may result in IRS penalties, you should still file the return as soon as possible.
Having tax-exempt status allows your donors to write off contributions from their tax return, and it also keeps the federal government from imposing taxes on the income your organization brings in - so it’s important to maintain your status.

Losing Tax Exemption
Failing to file your 990 returns for three consecutive years is the quickest way to lose your exemption status automatically. You can use the EO Select Check to see if the IRS automatically revoked your organization - it’ll list the exact date the revocation became effective.

There are also other ways your organization can lose its exemption status such as participating in political or lobbying activities, but failing to file three years straight is an automatic loss - no questions asked. Conversely, there are particular types of organizations that are naturally exempt - they aren’t required to file a 990 form.

Reclaim Your Exemption Status
If you lose your tax-exempt status, you’ll need to file the correct application for exemption based on your gross receipts and pay the processing fee. You may even be eligible to request reinstatement back to the revocation date.

After you’ve obtained your exemption status again, the IRS may ask you to file 990 forms for the years you’ve missed. With ExpressTaxExempt.com, you have our easy-to-use, cloud-based service to e-file the 990 series for the available tax years within the IRS e-filing system.

You can also keep your tax-exempt status up to date by e-filing with ExpressTaxExempt.com every year. Contact our helpful U.S. - based support team for any questions about the e-filing experience. We’re available at 704.839.2321 - business hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, or you can email us 24/7 with support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Political Participation from Exempt Organizations

According to the IRS, political and legislative activities are two separate types of operations within exempt organizations. Each has their set of rules and consequences based on the following criteria:
  • The scope or amount of the activity conducted
  • The type of operated activity - Political or Lobbying
  • The type of tax-exempt organization - Section 501(c)(3) or Private Foundations

Restrictions on Political Activities
The Internal Revenue Code strictly prohibits your typical section 501(c)(3) organizations in taking part in any political campaigns with a candidate running for an elective public office. Furthermore, any contributions to political campaign funds for an electoral candidate violates IRS policy and can lead to loss of exemption status.

While the IRS approves certain activities and expenditures that are mildly political, there are also specific types of exempt organizations that are allowed to participate in political campaigns fully - their involvement is carefully regulated as well.

Restrictions on Political Contributions
Exempt organizations like trade associations, labor unions, or similar groups can contribute to a political candidate, campaign committee, or newsletter fund; however, these donations are not tax deductible. Any expenses such as an advertisement or admission benefiting a political party or candidate are also non-deductible.

These tax-exempt organizations involved in politics and lobbying are also ineligible for getting tax-deductible, charitable contributions - this means that if a taxpayer donates to organizations like these, the amount isn't considered deductible for the taxpayer’s personal tax return.

Monetary Limits
There’s only so much the law allows organizations to contribute towards a political cause. Both parties - the one giving and the one receiving - are equally responsible for not exceeding past the limits.
An organization can donate a maximum of:
  • $100 in cash to any political committee
  • $33,400 per calendar year to a national party committee
  • $10,000 per calendar year to a state or local party committee
  • $5,000 per calendar year towards a political action committee
  • $2,700 per election to a federal candidate or campaign committee

If your tax-exempt organization is eligible to participate in lobbying activities or give political contributions, you are required to submit a Schedule C along with your IRS Form 990 or Form 990-EZ. With ExpressTaxExempt.com, schedules are automatically generated based on your form interview answers - the information you enter loads onto the proper schedule and is transmitted with your 990 form directly to the IRS.

For any questions or help with your e-filing experience, call our U.S. - based, customer support team at 704.839.2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST or reach us 24/7 with support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just the Facts: What to Know About Amended Returns

As much as we all tend to make tax season scary and stressful at times, tax returns aren’t necessarily the “be all, end all” threat we perceive.

It’s true that you should file on time with the most accurate information, but a couple of mistakes isn’t going to have the IRS shutting down your organization.

There are a few ways you can protect the integrity of your organization and correct any misinformation sent to the IRS. One of those safeguards is filing an amended return, but before you do, here are some facts about submitting amendments to the IRS.

Fact #1 - After submitting a tax form, exempt organizations can file amended returns to update or correct information from the previously filed tax return for the same tax period.

Fact #2 - Amendments are only available for IRS Form 990 and Form 990-EZ - it is not possible to file an amended return for IRS Form 990-N (e-Postcard).

Fact #3 - Amended Returns must contain all the information required by the original form, instructions, and schedules; you can’t just enter your corrections and then file - each section of the return must be redone.

Fact #4 - To indicate your form is an amended return, you can check the “Amended Return” box in Item B on the first page of your 990 form. You also need to enter on Schedule O which parts and schedules were corrected along with descriptions of the changes.

Fact #5 - If you need a copy of your organization’s previously filed tax return, you can submit IRS Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return.

Fact #6 - Your approved amended return must be available to the public within three years of the amended filing date or three years after the original IRS deadline of your form - whichever is later.


E-file Amended Returns with ExpressTaxExempt
At ExpressTaxExempt.com, transmitting amended returns are incredibly faster than paper filing. With our cloud-based technology, everything from your original return is carried over to the amended one - your responsibility is just to enter the corrections.

Important: “Amended Return” is an option with ExpressTaxExempt.com only if you e-filed your original return with our services, and the IRS accepted it.

With three small steps, your organization can amend its tax return from the Dashboard screen of your account:
  1. 1. Click the “Amended Return” button
  2. 2. Enter a short explanation why you're amending the return
  3. 3. Click the “Continue” to make your changes

All of your changes are automatically recorded to your Schedule O along with the required check mark on the first page of the form. Once done, you can transmit your new return and receive real-time email notifications of your filing status.

Contact our U.S. - based, customer support team for any questions or assistance needed with e-filing. Call at 704.839.2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. EST or send an email to support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Start a Nonprofit in 3 Simple Steps

Creating a nonprofit or charitable organization isn’t as easy as getting all your buddies together and doing community work for a noble cause. And at first glance, it may seem impossible with all the start-up costs and legal forms required.

Though it may be a challenge, and take lots of work, it is possible to break the process down into its essential phases. With these three steps, you can work towards building a recognizable tax-exempt organization sooner than you think.

File All Necessary Paperwork
Okay, take a breath and exhale - the sooner you realize you can’t avoid the paperwork, the easier you can embrace it and get done quicker. Keep in mind that there are application fees that accompany the majority of these forms, but they’re not as expensive as you may think.

You first need to register your organization’s name and receive an employer identification number - applying for an EIN is available for free on IRS website. Then, you have to get incorporated with your state; check your state’s chamber of commerce about incorporation and any associated fees.

Only after becoming incorporated with your state can you apply for tax-exempt status. Keep your ambitions and operating costs small to pay less in registration fees - you can build and grow later as time goes on. You want to file IRS Form 1023-EZ and pay the fee which was reduced this past July for small organizations.

Gain Trust & Supporters
While your applications are processing, use your waiting time connecting with potential donors and possible volunteers. No one is going to believe in your mission more than you, so prepare to have unyielding faith in what you what to accomplish and convey that to others.

By gathering contributors and volunteers at this point, you could cover some of the initial costs of your nonprofit. It’ll seem like you already have exemption status instead of a burdensome process of becoming tax exempt.

Use Community Resources
In most cases, you probably won’t be the only nonprofit or charity in your city. You may want to rely totally on fund grants, but they’re not as simple to obtain. Connect with other organizations in your community with similar missions and goals - they can share valuable insight about how your organization can best operate and possibly which grants favor your type of nonprofit.

After you build your organization and receive exemption status, you must file a tax return with the IRS each year which reports your nonprofit’s assets, structure, and activities. Based on your gross receipts, you could be fined a penalty for filing late or completely lose your tax-exempt status for not filing three years straight.

With ExpressTaxExempt.com, we offer the most streamlined, e-filing experience available - complete and transmit your tax-exempt return quicker than paper filing. No matter how large or small your organization, we have the 990 form or tax extension to accommodate your nonprofit or charity.

Assistance with the e-filing process is only a call away - contact our U.S. - based, customer support team at 704.839.2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST or send an email to support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.



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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

5 Key Points for a Nonprofit Community Impact Statement

When sharing the latest and greatest accomplishments of your nonprofit or charitable group, it’s typical of exempt organizations to issue a Community Impact Statement to donors, potential volunteers, and community leaders.

Your statement can include many facts that clearly demonstrates your organization’s outreach within the community. Here are five key points from the nonprofit industry you should include in your impact statement.

Hours from Volunteers
An important aspect of quantifying your organization’s community outreach is the monitoring, gauging, and distribution of volunteer hours. There are online tools available for organizations to quickly schedule and mark volunteers along with real-time reports on service hours. You could even find smartphone apps to pass along to your volunteers, which can allow them to follow and report hours on their own.

Products or Services Offered
Whatever work or items your organization provides to the community - showcase it! Based on your type of nonprofit or charity, show just how many homes built, school supplies distributed, parks cleaned, meals cooked, etc. Quantified numbers always help give a clear picture of your organization's activities.

Funds Raised
Nothing probably showcases community impact better than the contributions, gifts, and grants that your nonprofit draws in. While it proves how your organization supports its activities, it also shows a glimpse of the faith and dependability of your organization’s donor base.

Service Value
According to statistics, the dollar amount for volunteer service is $23.56 per hour. And last year, the national value of service from volunteers was an estimated $184 billion! Converting the time, skill, and talent of your volunteers into a monetary value can show how the community is financially benefiting from your organization.

Testimonials
For nonprofits and charities, a story about the lives changed and the benefits of your organization can inspire others to give or get involved. Share interviews from volunteers or community residents that you've helped. You can also implement quotes and stories on your organization’s website or promotional materials.

Other than publishing a Community Impact Statement, exempt organizations are required by the IRS to share information from annual tax returns with the public. With ExpressTaxExempt.com, you have instant access to a PDF copy of your transmitted IRS Form 990/990-EZ. You can print as many copies as needed or upload the PDF file to your organization’s website.

If you have any questions or issues with e-filing your tax return with our services, please contact our U.S. - based, customer support team at 704.839.2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. We’re also available via email with support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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Thursday, September 8, 2016

4 Effective Blog Ideas for Nonprofits

There are many things you can do to increase community engagement with your nonprofit or charity. A least expensive and less time-consuming option is to create a weekly or bi-weekly blog.

Blogs are an excellent way to update donors, attract new contributors, and showcase your organization’s accomplishments all at once.

Blogs have the potential of reaching a larger audience than your regular lists of contact emails, but only if your blogs contain engaging and concise content. Here are four ideas for blogs from the Internet you can quickly use to increase your exempt organization’s outreach.

Stories from Communities
The most attractive thing your nonprofit or charity can do is display how it invokes positive change within the community. These stories can highlight how your organization meets community needs - you can interview a city leader, a donor, or a long-time resident. If possible, be sure to include photos and videos.

A Compilation Report
A small, summarized report can keep your audiences informed about the progress your organization makes - this can include statistics from donations, fundraising events, volunteers, or services. Feature about five stats from your organization’s activities and use one of those numbers each time you re-post the blog to your social media pages.

Important: A blog detailing a report should be brief and straight to the point. Keep it short to retain your audience’s attention - inform readers of only the significant numerical facts from your activities. Save the minuscule details for your major annual meetings.

Useful Resources or Advice
Your blogs should be able to connect with others outside your donor’s list - sharing tips and resources can put your brand in front of people who have never heard of you. For example, if your organization seeks the restoration and preservation of plant life, create a blog about building or maintaining a backyard garden. Or if your nonprofit is about art, point of some of the best art places in the community.

Behind the Scenes Coverage
Give your audiences an insightful look into the inner workings of your organization. You can significantly express the goals of your nonprofit, fundraising events, and other activities along with the people who help make it happen - use interviews or stories from staff, volunteers, or board members. Visuals are always important, so include various multimedia.

Whether these blogs bring in more contributions, volunteers, or even spark new ideas for fundraising events or program services, you’ll still need to report these changes to the IRS with your annual tax return. With ExpressTaxExempt.com, you can e-file your IRS Form 990/990-EZ a lot quicker than paper filing. Our service uses simple, interview-style questioning and cloud-based technology so you can access and complete your form on any computer.

Contact our U.S. - based support team for any questions or assistance with the e-filing process. You can reach us at 704.839.2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST or email us 24/7 with support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tax Tips for Nonprofit Volunteers

Volunteers are an indispensable aspect of any nonprofit organization or charity. They help complete the daily tasks required, which allows your organization to continue reaching its mission or goal.

Many of you may already have a process in place for recruiting volunteers - email blasts, social media, sign-up events, and others.

But the key to secure potential volunteers is transparency. From the start, let your prospects know what you’re aiming to achieve and how they can assist. Another way to entice is explaining the benefits of volunteering. One of the many incentives for people donating services are the tax deductions.

Here are a few tips and guidelines from the IRS about claiming credits from services to charity.

Qualified Organization
Before your volunteers can deduct any service costs, the nonprofit or charity must be officially recognized by the IRS as a Section 501(c)(3) exempt organization - this leads right back to being transparent with your potential helpers. You’re obligated to explain whether your nonprofit is officially tax-exempt, waiting on approval, or haven’t even registered. Church and government organizations are automatically qualified.

Out-of-Pocket Spending
Volunteers can deduct traveling costs necessary to donate their services. All costs must meet the following criteria for eligibility:
  • Unreimbursed expenses
  • Fees accrued due to given services
  • No living, family, or personal expenses
  • Costs directly related to donated services

Substantial & Authentic Work
Your volunteers must perform work that is “real and valuable” to the organization. Any travel expenses are ineligible for tax credits if the volunteer duties were minimal or have no impact or significant importance with your nonprofit or charity.

Value of Services & Time
According to the IRS, volunteers can’t deduct the value of their donated services - what this means is that they can’t claim what they would typically charge for a particular service. For example, let’s say a caterer volunteers to feed your fundraising event or gala - they’re ineligible to write-off the usual amount they would’ve charged to cater such an event; however, the cost of supplies, utilities, and travel for the event are approved deductions.

Claims on Travel Costs
Travel expenses that volunteers can deduct includes
  • Car expenses
  • Lodging costs
  • Meal expenses
  • Train, air, and bus transportation
  • Other transportation costs needed for local travel
Check with your community’s tax professional or CPA about how you can further explain the tax incentives for nonprofit volunteers. And once you’ve got your volunteer situation complete, visit us at ExpressTaxExempt.com for all your federal e-filing needs.

With our services, you can e-file IRS Form 990-N (e-Postcard), 990-EZ, 990 (long), and Extension Form 8868 for an automatic, 3-month tax extension. Time is starting to wind down for those of you who extended your IRS deadline to November 15 - e-file right now with ExpressTaxExempt.com to avoid any late filing fees.

If you have any questions or need assistance with the e-filing process, our U.S. - based customer support is ready to help out. Call us at 704.839.2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, or email us at your convenience with support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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Thursday, September 1, 2016

ExpressTaxExempt - E-file Solutions for Exempt Organizations

No matter how you look at, running a successful nonprofit or charity organization isn’t an easy accomplishment. There are sufficient planning and organizing that goes into managing donor contributions, fundraising events, volunteers, community engagement, and a laundry list of other things designed to help reach the mission goal.

Not only that, but your organization and activities must be in compliance with the IRS to maintain exemption status. One of those regulations requires every tax-exempt organization to file a tax return each year. Here’s where the fine folks at ExpressTaxExempt.com step in to help!

With ExpressTaxExempt.com, you can transmit a complete, accurate, and secure tax return directly to the IRS quicker than paper filing. We offer various e-filing solutions for both small and large exempt organizations depending on your gross receipts.

IRS Form 990-N (e-Postcard)
For small organizations making less than $50,000 per year, you can e-file our quick and easy IRS Form 990-N (e-Postcard). In minutes, you can have your e-Postcard transmitted and approved by the IRS. You’ll only need your organization’s basic details, tax year period, and confirm the organization makes less than $50,000 - that is it, no exact amounts required.

E-file your Form 990-N (e-Postcard) for current and prior tax years starting at $9.90.

For even more convenience, download our FREE ExpressTaxExempt - Form 990-N mobile app! You can e-file for the current tax year from the palm of your hand with your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.

IRS Form 990/990-EZ
If your organization is much larger, you’ll have to e-file either IRS Form 990 (long) or IRS Form 990-EZ. Nonprofits and charities with gross receipts over $200,000 will need the Form 990 (long), while organizations making between $50,000 and $200,000 will e-file Form 990-EZ. We also support Schedules for each form.

E-file Form 990-EZ for current and prior years starting at $129.99 or e-file Form 990 for the current and previous tax year starting at $299.95.

Need an amended return? ExpressTaxExempt.com currently supports amended returns for Form 990/990-EZ. You must have e-filed your original return with our services to successfully file an amendment.

Extension Form 8868
With everything else going on within your organization, there’s no question that you may need extra time to get all your tax information in order. With ExpressTaxExempt.com, you can also e-file IRS Form 8868 Part 1 & 2, which grants an automatic, 3-month extension or an additional, non-automatic, 3-month extension - totaling up to six months of extra time.

E-file your Extension Form 8868 for the current tax year starting at $14.95.

You don’t have to rush home to a desktop computer for a tax extension - download our FREE ExpressTaxExempt - Form 8868 mobile app for iOS or Android devices and quickly transmit your form on the go!

Important: With each of our forms, you’ll receive automatic email notifications when the IRS accepts your filing. If you get a rejected form, you’re able to make any corrections needed and re-transmit at no extra charge. We also use cloud-based technology so you won’t have to complete a filing in one sitting - exit whenever you want and continue right where you left off. And with our automated audit check, you can transmit an error-free form the first time around.

At ExpressTaxExempt.com, we’re here to help you comply with the IRS so you can get back to your organization and do the work that matters most. For any questions or assistance with the e-filing process, contact our U.S. - based customer support line at 704.839.2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. Email us at your convenience with 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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