The May 15th Deadline Approaches

May day! May day!

The May 15th deadline is almost upon us!

For those of you new to the tax-exempt game, May 15 is a major deadline for 990 Forms because it’s the 15th day of the fifth month following the end of the calendar tax year. You may remember in all that paperwork to become a tax-exempt organization, it told you that you’d need to file a 990 Form by the 15th day of the fifth month after your tax year ends. And since the calendar tax year, which runs from January 1 to December 31, is used by a lot of tax-exempt organizations (“a lot” as in “most of them”), May 15 is the official unofficial 990 Form deadline!

Now, if you have a tax year that runs from, say, July 1 to June 30 (deadline: November 15) or September 1 to August 31 (deadline: January 15) or any other set of 365 consecutive days, you can disregard this deadline. But make sure you know when your tax year end date is so you can determine your actual due date for Form 990.

What Happens If I File Form 990 Late?
Ah, a good question, to be sure! If you’re required to e-file Form 990-N (the e-Postcard), there aren’t really any immediate penalties for filing late. Just be sure to get it in as soon as you can if you realize a little too late that you’ve missed the deadline. Keep in mind, though, that if you go more than three consecutive years without e-filing a 990-N (or any 990 form), your tax-exempt status will be automatically revoked by the IRS and you’ll need to apply again for it.

However, if you have to file the 990 Long Form, Form 990-EZ, or Form 990-PF, the IRS does impose penalties for filing your form late. You may be able to get out of these penalties if the organization can provide reasonable cause for why the 990 Form was filed late. If not though, the IRS will charge you $20 for each day the return is late, with the maximum penalty being $10,000 or 5% of your organization’s gross receipts, whichever is less.

And that’s just if your organization earned fewer than $1,000,000 in gross receipts for the tax year you’re reporting. If your organization had gross receipts of more than $1 million, the penalty increases to $100 per day late, with a maximum penalty of $50,000.

Can I Extend the May 15 Deadline?
If you file Form 990-N, no. But that’s just because it’s so easy: all you do is confirm your organization’s identifying information (name, EIN, address), confirm you made fewer than $50,000 in gross receipts by checking a box, and e-file.

If you file Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF, yes! You can use Form 8868 to get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your 990 Form.

What’s the Best Way to File Form 990 On Time?
Why, with ExpressTaxExempt, of course! This year, we’ve launched a simplified, streamlined version of ETE for the 990-N Form. Just go to and use the information from your ETE account to e-file Form 990-N in three steps!

If you need to file one of the longer forms, it’s still easiest to e-file with ExpressTaxExempt! We’ve broken down the 990 Form into a question and answer style interview to help you more accurately and easily complete your form. And if at any point you think you’ll need more time, you can e-file Form 8868 right from your account before getting back to work.
We also offer top-notch customer support right here from our headquarters in Rock Hill, South Carolina. You can call us at (704) 839-2321, send us a live chat through our website, or email us at [email protected] and we’ll help however we can!

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