Revenue, Expenses, & Grants from Program Services

The IRS requires large and mid-size exempt organizations to describe three of their most major program services when reporting Form 990 or 990-EZ tax returns.

These services typically measure or rank by the total expenses spent by the organization. If a tax-exempt group has less than three program services, they can just describe the activities of each available service.

Descriptions of program services can include many variables such as how many clients the organization served, days of care provided, publications issued, or the number of sessions held. Along with stating the objective of the service, the IRS also needs to know all revenue, expense, and grant amounts associated with each program.

Section 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations are responsible for reporting any income coming directly from activities of each program service. Fees for services or sales from goods related to each activity are all considered revenue. These amounts should include the program service revenue listed on Part VIII, Column A, Line 2 of the 990 form; it can also contain other amounts from Part VIII, Line 1 through 3 such as related or exempt function revenue.

Important: Revenue should also include any unrelated business income from activities exploiting an exempt function – advertising in a journal would be an example. You shouldn’t combine any charitable contributions and grants as revenue coming from program services.

Expenses & Grants
For each program service listed on Part III, Line 4a through 4c, 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations have to enter total expenses that you reported on Part IX, Column B, Line 25. And list the total grants and allocations within those expenses that are marked on Part IX, Column B, Line 3 through 11 of the 990 form.

Other Program Services
If you have more than three significant program services, you can continue to report on the Schedule O. The IRS won’t require a detailed description of these other services like it did the first three. But you are responsible for listing the total revenues and expenses – including grants – exactly how you did with your organization’s larger program services.

With IRS-authorized ExpressTaxExempt, organizations can easily enter information about their program services in minutes. Our 990 form e-file application also generates any additional services onto your Schedule O and allows you to enter revenue, expenses and grant amounts for each entry.

Speak with your local tax professional or advisor if you have any detailed questions about your organization’s program services. For any questions or assistance with reporting your program activities with our e-file service, contact our US-based customer support team at 704.839.2321 or email us with


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