Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Reporting Program Service Expenses on the 990

Just as a follow up to yesterday's post on the Oregon spendig requirement, I took a quick look again at the Form 990 (go to page 10) and its instructions regarding the allocation of program service expenses (go to pages 41 through 43).   My personal favorite is the instruction on how to allocate indirect costs, which requires the charity to list everything as an administrative cost in column C (that being not a program service expense) and then to add a separate, self-created line under "Other" in which the charity is instructed to place a negative number in column C in order to allocate indirect costs to program service in B or to fundraising expenses in D.   So that's clear as mud -- no chance of error there.  

Also, take a look at the list of administrative expenses to be reported in column C and think about a smallish charity - one that does a full Form 990 but is still relatively small in terms of revenue and expense - for example, a small medical clinic.  The list in the instructions includes the CEO and staff by default (unless directly involved in program service oversight) as well as "costs of board of directors' meetings; committee meetings, and staff meetings (unless they involve specific program services or fundraising activities); general legal services; accounting (including patient accounting and billing); general liability insurance; office management; auditing, human resources, and other centralized services; preparation, publication, and distribution of an annual report; and management of investments."  I wouldn't be surprised if such a charity had issues, or at least is forced into taking a fairly aggressive position on indirect cost allocations.

When we think about fradulent charities, I don't think most of us think of these types of expenses.

Just a thought.  EWW

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/nonprofit/2013/06/reporting-program-service-expenses-on-the-990.html

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