The 990 Series of forms is an annual information return that will be filed with the IRS by most tax exempt organizations. It is important to know which organizations are required to file a 990 and which specific version of the 990 is appropriate. Being knowledgeable of the requirements will enable an organization to avoid the penalties associated with failure to file a 990. These penalties include a daily fine of $20 for late filing, up to the lesser of $10,000 or 5% of Gross Receipts, as well as an automatic revocation of exempt tax status for failing to file a 990 for three consecutive years.

While most tax exempt organizations will be required to file one of the various forms from the 990 Series, the following types of organization are not required to file:

  • Churches and their conventions, associations, and integrated auxiliaries (men/women’s associations, religious schools, youth groups, etc.)
  • Certain Political organizations (state and local committee of a political party, political committee of a state or local candidate, caucus or association of a state or local official)>/li>
  • Any organization that is part of a group return filed by its central organization
  • Any organization that files a different annual information return(Form 990-PF for private taxable foundations, Form 990-BL for Black Lung benefit trusts and certain related persons)

Any organization that is recognized as tax exempt by the IRS and is not one of the exceptions listed above will be required to file the appropriate form from the 990 Series each year.

There are a few different variations of the Form that fall under the 990 series, which one an organization should file depends on their gross receipts and total assets. The smallest non-profit organizations, those who have Gross Receipts that are typically $50,000 or less, will file a Form 990-N. The next group, tax exempt organizations with Gross Receipts below $200,000 and Total Assets below $500,000 at the end of the tax year, will file a Form 990-EZ. Most other non-profit organizations, any with Gross Receipts of at least $200,000 or Total Assets of $500,000 or more, will file the standard Form 990.

Written by Michael Klein, CPA, CMA, EA, Partner