Friday, February 29, 2008

IRS ISSUES GUIDANCE ON E-PostCard Filing for Small Exempt Organizations

On February 25, 2008, the IRS issued guidance on the Form 990-N (hereinafter, "e-Postcard") filing requirement of small tax-exempt organizations (i.e., those with gross receipts annually of $25,000 or less).  The Pension Protection Act of 2006 requires such organizations to file the e-Postcard starting in 2008 for tax years beginning with 2007.  Small tax-exempt organizations are now required to make e-Postcard filings by the 15th day of the fifth month following the close of their tax year.  The filing is made electronically only, and the public can view the e-filings on the IRS website.  Prior to the new e-Postcard requirement, small tax-exempts were not required to file either Form 990 or 990-EZ.   Small tax-exempts still do not have to file these forms.  Also, while there is no immediate penalty for failing to file the e-Postcard, those nonprofits that fail to file the e-Postcard for three consecutive years will lose their tax-exempt status.  The IRS will send a notice reminding organizations of the obligation to file but the ultimate responsibility rest with the tax-exempt organization.  As a result, the IRS is urging everyone -- individuals, accountants, lawyers and volunteers -- to spread the word to local charities.  Tax-exempts included on a group return and churches are not required to make this filing.  On the other hand, larger tax-exempts with receipts of more than $25,000, private foundations and 509(a)(3) organizations are required to continue filing Form 990 or 990-EZ but are not required to also file the e-Postcard.

As a practical matter, tax-exempt organizations whose volunteers, staffs and directors change more frequently than other types of organizations must be vigilant.  That would include updating the IRS on address changes as a matter of practice or protocol.  The law requiring the e-Postcard balances the purposes of the act (i.e., giving potential donors more information and informing the public) with the fragile administrative realities of many small tax-exempt organizations.  This balance was struck under the law in the following way -- the law does not impose late filing fees for filing late, and an organization's tax-exempt status will not be revoked for failing to file until after three consecutive years of failing to file the e-Postcard.

On the IRS website, the following information is provided, in part:

Small tax-exempt organizations whose gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less may be required to electronically submit Form 990-N, also known as the e-Postcard.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 added this filing requirement to ensure that the IRS and potential donors have current information about your organization.

Due Date of the e-Postcard

The first e-Postcards are due in 2008 for tax years ending on or after December 31, 2007. The e-Postcard is due every year by the 15th day of the 5th month after the close of your tax year. For example, if your tax year ended on December 31, 2007, the e-Postcard is due May 15, 2008. You cannot file the e-Postcard until after your tax year ends.

.  . .

Information You Will Need To File the e-Postcard

The e-Postcard is easy to complete.  All you need is the following information about your organization. Click on any of the links below, if you need more information about the item.

    • Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)).
    • Tax Year
    • Legal name and mailing address
    • Any other names the organization uses
    • Name and address of a principal officer
    • Web site address if the organization has one
    • Confirmation that the organization’s annual gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less
    • If applicable, a statement that the organization has terminated or is terminating (going out of business)

To learn more about the new requirement, see the IRS website.


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