Public Disclosure

Your tax season was a breeze. You were able file and transmit your exempt tax return, and it was easily accepted by the IRS. Everything is going so well. And then, one day, you have someone at your place of business requesting information about your organization and its tax filings. No, this isn’t an audit, but just a local citizen asking about the dealings within your organization. Why would a person want to know that stuff? There could be a million and one reasons why, but the main issue here is that your organization has to comply with the request.
FACT: All organizations, except for private foundations, that are under Code Section 501(c) exemption, are required to disclose certain information to whomever is interested.

The IRS regulations require that nonprofits and tax-exempt organizations make the following available to be viewed by the general public:

Annual Information Returns
You have to provide the last three annual information returns filed by your exempt organization, which includes a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N (e-Postcard), 990-T, and all submitted schedules and supporting attachments.

Under these same regulations, you don’t have to provide your

  • Form 1120-POL
  • Schedule A of Form 990-BL
  • Schedule K-1 of Form 1065
  • Lists of received contributions, grants, and gifts

Application For Tax Exemption
You also need to provide your Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Tax Exemption, or a Form 1024, along with all the supporting documents and statements that were sent to the IRS.
However, you don’t have make public any applications the IRS haven’t approved or any section 501(c)(3) applications that were filed before July 15, 1987.

So if someone shows up to your organization’s main office, and they request your Form 1023 or your last three tax returns, you must allow that person to see them. This is called an On-Site Request, and the person can even photocopy the forms if the equipment is present. You can also have a representative be there for the copying.

If your organization receives a Written Request, you must satisfy the request within 30 days of receiving it. Here are some key things to keep in mind about written requests:

  • Requests have to include an address in which the information can be sent
  • You’re allowed to charge a reasonable fee for processing the request
  • Fees cannot be higher than $1 for copying the first page and $.15 for each additional page
  • You can request for advance payment of fees before processing the request
  • The request is considered complete as of the date of the postmark or delivery 

If a person’s request is sent and fulfilled through email, the process is considered complete on the date the replied email was sent.

You’re exempt organization is covered under Exemption for Website Posted Documents if your documents are widely available on the Internet, and you don’t have to honor requests for copies. But you do have to provide

  • The website address
  • Steps on how to download the information
  • A format that displays the information exactly how it looks when it was filed 

The IRS may charge a fine for any exempt organization for not complying with regulations. Penalties can be $20 per day with a maximum penalty fee of $10,000 for each return that isn’t provided. There’s no maximum penalty for failing to provide your section 501(c)(3) application; you can expect a daily fee until you do.

Stay in compliance with these disclosures by already having your tax returns e-filed with Express990. We work closely with the IRS in order to provide you with a safe, secure, and accurate e-filing process that will save you time and money. And you receive direct confirmation when your form is transmitted, and whether it’s been accepted or rejected.

For assistance with e-filing any of our available 990 forms, contact our live support by phone Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm, Eastern Standard Time, at (704) 839-2321, by email at [email protected], or by live chat at the Express990 website.

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