Form 990 Instructions for Exempt Organizations

Tax-exempt organizations are required to file an annual tax return with the IRS – this form is known as the 990 series, and it reports an organization’s total revenue, expenses, and activities.
Submitting an IRS 990 form every year is essential for tax-exempt groups to maintain their exemption status.
Failing to do so can lead to severe IRS penalties including automatic revocation of exemption status. Filing with incomplete or incorrect information also yields the same consequences. Here are a few guidelines to remember when filing a 990 form.

Accounting Period
Tax-exempt groups typically need to file their tax return by the 15th day of the 5th month after their accounting period ends. An accounting period, or tax year period, is a consecutive 12-month period which an organization operates. There are two types of tax years – calendar and fiscal. You can contact the IRS tax-exempt hotline (877.829.5500) and ask for your organization’s specific tax year begin and end dates.

Gross Receipts
The type of 990 form the IRS requires depends on your organization’s gross receipts or total revenues. For tax-exempt groups making over $200,000 a year, IRS Form 990 is mandatory to file. Organizations with gross receipts between $50,000 and $200,000 can file IRS Form 990-EZ. And small nonprofits or charities with less than $50,000 are responsible for filing IRS Form 990-N (e-Postcard).

Requirements for a Complete Form 990
Preparing an accurate Form 990 or 990-EZ for your organization takes a considerable amount of time and paperwork. Both forms are several pages long depending on how many schedules you need to attach.

Along with your basic organization details, be ready to present information about program services, revenue, expenses, supplemental financial statements, net assets, balance sheets, a list of employees, other IRS filings, and tax compliance along with governance, management, and disclosures.

E-filing with ExpressTaxExempt
The best way to file a 990 form is through an IRS-authorized, e-file provider. is such a service offering cloud-based solutions to exempt organizations looking for a quicker and more accurate method of filing with the IRS.

The process is entirely simplified with interview-style questions, internal error checks, bulk upload of multiple contributions or donors, automatic schedule inclusion, real-time email notifications of filing status, and storage of transmitted returns.

You can invite board members to e-verify your completed form, and even gain access to a PDF copy after submitting to the IRS. If your return gets rejected, ExpressTaxExempt can point out the errors for you to correct and retransmit. You can even file amended returns for accepted filings if applicable.

It’s necessary for exempt organizations to remain current with their annual tax returns. makes it easy to e-file, but feel free to contact us at 704.839.2321, or through email with [email protected], for any questions about e-filing with the IRS.

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