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ExpressTaxExempt Blog

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Common Form 990 Filing Mistakes

Preparing an IRS Form 990 takes a great deal time. The entire form itself is many pages long and littered with tons of IRS instructions, legal terms, and small print that can contribute to a stressful filing experience.

IRS forms are complicated, but providing complete and accurate information is key to avoiding IRS penalties. Here are three sections of the 990 form where people typically make the most mistakes, and how you can navigate through the difficulties.

Part VII - Compensation of Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors
A lot of people seem to get confused at this part of the Form 990 because of the many classifications - some organizations may have one member with many roles, or don’t have any key employees, or don’t offer compensation at all.

For the majority of exempt organizations, you must list all your current officers, directors, and trustees first - whether they were paid or not. You need to include employees outside of an officer, director, or trustee role that were paid the highest along with amounts reported on their W-2.

Other situations may require you to list former officers or highest compensated employees that made over $100,000 during the tax year or former directors or trustees that made over $10,000 within the tax year. You’ll also need to list any hired contractor that was paid at least $100,000.

Part VIII - Statement of Revenue
A statement of revenue is exactly how it sounds; you’re stating every dollar amount your organization brought in during the tax year. It’s broken down into three broad categories:
  • Contributions, Gifts, and Grants - Money or the monetary value of items freely given to your organization by people or the government
  • Program Service Revenue - Money paid to your organization for providing a service or product related to your tax-exempt operations
  • Other Revenue - Money made from your organization through various ways like investments, royalties, rental properties, gaming activities, or inventory sales

There’s also a section for miscellaneous revenue, and this is what messes with people the most. Be sure to double, even triple, check your organization’s sources of income to make sure they fit within those three most important categories. If it doesn’t fit, that’s the only time you can count it as miscellaneous. Grouping any or every large sum as miscellaneous can harm your public charity status and even lead to an audit.

Part IX - Statement of Functional Expenses
Much like the statement of revenue; this time around, you’re stating each time your organization spent money. There aren’t any broad categories you can group expenses into; however, the IRS lists various cases in which an organization may need to spend money. And just like revenue, make sure your costs can fit the given conditions - lumping everything as a miscellaneous expense is like waving a red flag.

With ExpressTaxExempt.com, we break these parts down into full, stand-alone sections, so you aren’t squeezing everything into one page or one screen. We even offer our exclusive Bulk Upload feature in which you can upload lists of received contributions at once, and we’ll enter each of them in for you while you continue through your 990 form - get twice as much done in less time!

Contact our U.S. - based support team of e-file professionals for any help or questions about your filing experience. We’re available at 704.839.2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST or reach us via email with support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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