Form 990 (officially, the "Return of Organization Exempt From Income
Tax") is a United States
Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service form that
provides the public with financial information about a nonprofit
organization. It is often the only source of such information. It is
also used by government agencies to prevent organizations from abusing
their tax-exempt status. Certain nonprofits have more comprehensive
reporting requirements, such as hospitals and other health care
organizations (Schedule H).
1.1 Form 990-EZ
1.2 Form 990-N
1.3 Form 990-PF
3 Filing requirements
3.1 Fiduciary reporting
3.2 Who must file?
3.3 Filing modalities
5 Public inspection regulations
Form 990 data published by IRS
5.2 Third-party sources of Form 990
7 Use by charity evaluation organizations
8 See also
There is a variant of
Form 990 called Form 990-EZ ("Short Form Return
of Organization Exempt From Income Tax"). This form can be used
Form 990 for organizations with gross receipts less than
$200,000 and total assets less than $500,000 (there are some
Small organizations whose annual gross receipts are "normally $50,000
or less" must file the electronic Form 990-N (officially, "Electronic
Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations Not Required to File
Form 990 or Form 990EZ"). There is no paper form for 990-N, but it is
possible to file instead
Form 990 or Form 990-EZ.
Form 990-PF is filed by private foundations in the US. It includes
fiscal information and a complete list of grants, among other
information. The form is due to the IRS 4.5 months after the end of
the foundation's fiscal year.
In addition to Form 990, tax-exempt organizations are also subject to
a variety of disclosure and compliance requirements through various
schedules which are attached to
Form 990 (and, in some cases, 990-EZ
or 990-PF). Filing of schedules by organizations supplements,
enhances, and further clarifies disclosures and compliance reporting
made in Form 990. Often, filing of schedules is mandatory, but there
are situations where organizations not otherwise subject to filing
requirements may consider completing certain schedules despite not
being technically obligated to.
Number of pages
Can be filed with Form 990-EZ?
Public Charity Status and Public Support
Schedule of Contributors
Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities
Supplemental Financial Statements
Statement of Activities Outside the United States
Supplemental Information Regarding Fundraising or Gaming Activities
Grants and Other Assistance to Organizations, Governments, and
Individuals in the United States
Supplemental Information on Tax-Exempt Bonds
Transactions With Interested Persons
Liquidation, Termination, Dissolution, or Significant Disposition of
Supplemental Information to Form 990
Related Organizations and Unrelated Partnerships
Form 990 is due on the 15th of the 5th month after the fiscal year,
with up to 6 months of extensions.
Form 990 disclosures do not require but strongly encourage
nonprofit boards to adopt a variety of board policies regarding
governance practices. These suggestions go beyond Sarbanes-Oxley
requirements for nonprofits to adopt whistleblower and document
retention policies. The IRS has indicated they will use the Form 990
as an enforcement tool, particularly regarding executive compensation.
For example, nonprofits that adopt specific procedures regarding
executive compensation are offered safe harbor from excessive
compensation rules under section 4958 of the Internal Revenue Code and
Treasury Regulation section 53.4958-6.
According to section 1223(b) of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, a
nonprofit organization that does not file annual returns or notices
for three consecutive years will have its tax-exempt status revoked as
of the due date of the third return or notice. An organization's
tax-exempt status may be reinstated if it can show reasonable cause
for the years of nonfiling.
Who must file?
Form 990 is to be filed by tax-exempt organizations under section
501(a). This includes organizations in section
private foundations) and most organizations in other subsections of
501(c). Tax-exempt organizations with annual gross receipts of
$200,000 or more or assets of $500,000 or more must file Form 990.
Churches (including houses of worship such as synagogues and mosques)
and their integrated auxiliaries, associations of churches, and any
religious order that engages exclusively in religious activity are not
required to file.
Form 990 may be filed with the IRS by mail or electronically with
IRS e-file Provider.
There is a penalty of $20 per day that the organization fails to make
its Forms 990 publicly available, which is capped at a maximum of
$10,000 for any single failure. Any person who willfully fails to
comply will be subject to an additional penalty of $5,000. There
are other penalties for e.g. omitting information.:229
In 1998, over $10 million was collected by the IRS for penalties on
over 9000 forms.:229
Public inspection regulations
Public Inspection IRC 6104(d) regulations state that an organization
must provide copies of its three most recent Forms 990 to anyone who
requests them, whether in person, by mail, fax, or e-mail.
Form 990 data published by IRS
The IRS publishes
Form 990 data in two main forms, as part of the
Statistics of Income program:
An annual extract of tax-exempt organizational data, which covers
selected financial data from filters of Form 990, 990-EZ, and 990-PF,
with data available from calendar year 2012 to the most recent year
for which filing and statistics compilation is complete. This is
also available as a public dataset on Google BigQuery.
As a public dataset on Amazon S3, hosted in the US East region. The
dataset includes index files for each year that list nonprofits that
Form 990 in that year (possibly for a previous year) along with
the identifier for their filing. This identifier can be used to fetch
Form 990 as a XML file. Data covers returns filed from
2011 to the present and is regularly updated. This dataset is used
by Charity Navigator.
Third-party sources of Form 990
Google BigQuery, which has IRS
Form 990 data as a public dataset.
This is based on statistics published by the IRS from 2012 to the most
recent completed year.
Charity Navigator, which maintains a "990 Decoder" website with over
2.5 million tax returns. This is based on forms filed from
2011 to the present, and uploaded by the IRS to Amazon S3.
Citizen Audit provides PDF copies of annual returns, signatures
not blacked out.
Economic Research Institute provides PDF copies of annual returns,
signatures not blacked out.
Foundation Center IRS
Form 990 lookup tool; provides PDF copies of
annual returns, signatures blacked out.
Guidestar IRS Form 990's and other information for selection of
nonprofits, free and fee based
Form 990 search tool and nonprofit organization profiles,
signatures blacked out.
BoardSource Governance requirements in 990.
Form 990 was first used for the tax year ending in 1941. It was as a
two-page form. Organizations were also required to include a
schedule with the names and addresses of payees who had given the
organization at least $4,000 during the year.
The form reached four pages (including instructions) in 1947. In 1976
this was increased to 5.5 pages (including instructions), with 8 pages
for Schedule A. By 2000 this was 6 pages for Form 990, 42 pages for
instructions, 6 pages for Schedule A, and at least 2 pages for
Schedule B. This increase is due to use of a larger font and inclusion
of sections that are only required for some organizations.
Starting in 2000, political organizations were required to file Form
In June 2007, the IRS released a new
Form 990 that requires
significant disclosures on corporate governance and boards of
directors. These new disclosures are required for all nonprofit filers
for the 2009 tax year, with more significant reporting requirements
for nonprofits with over $1 million in revenues or $2.5 million in
In 2010, the minimum threshold of when an organization is required to
Form 990 was increased: the minimum annual gross receipts was
increased from $100,000 to $200,000 and the minimum assets was
increased from $250,000 to $500,000.
With the availability of the internet, access to the
Form 990 of an
organization has also become easier. Originally
Form 990 had to be
requested through the IRS. This was changed to allow access to the
form directly through the organization, although in some cases
organizations refused to provide access.
Use by charity evaluation organizations
Charity Navigator uses IRS Forms 990 to rate charities. In
Charity Navigator launched the Digitized Form 990
Decoder, a free and open-source software dataset and tools to analyze
Form 990 filings. At launch, more than 900,000 forms had been
Holden Karnofsky of the nonprofit charity evaluator GiveWell
Form 990 for not providing sufficient information about
what a charity does or where it operates. However
Form 990 to answer some questions when investigating
There was a website called Quality 990 that advocated for higher
quality Form 990s.
United States non-profit laws
Philanthropy in the United States
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^ "Instructions for Form 990-EZ" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service.
2015. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
^ "Annual Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Exempt Organizations
— Form 990-N (e-Postcard)". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved
February 2, 2016.
^ "Demystifying the 990-PF". Foundation Center. Retrieved February 3,
^ a b c d Grace Allison. "The New
Form 990 for Tax-Exempt
Organizations: Revolution in Progress". 2010. Estate planning. Vol.
37. Issue 3. pg 14–20.
^ "Annual exempt organization return: Due date". IRS. Retrieved
^ IRS (2008-02-04). "Governance and Related Topics - 501(c)(3)
Organizations" (PDF). Online.irs.gov. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
^ "Pension Protection Act of 2006, Section 1223(b)". Government
Printing Office. August 17, 2006.
^ "Notice 2011-43: Transitional Relief Under Internal Revenue Code §
6033(j) for Small Organizations". Internal Revenue Bulletin: 2011-25.
Internal Revenue Service. June 20, 2011.
^ "Instructions for
Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt From Income
Tax" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. 2015. Retrieved February 3,
^ 26 U.S. Code § 6033 - Returns by exempt organizations, Section (3)
^ "Penalties for Failing to Make Forms 990 Publicly Available". IRS.
^ a b c d e f Cheryl Chasin, Debra Kawecki and David Jones (2002). "G.
Form 990" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. Archived from the original
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Uses authors parameter (link)
^ a b "SOI Tax Stats - Annual Extract of Tax-Exempt Organization
Financial Data". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved October 14,
^ a b "IRS
Form 990 Data". BigQuery. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
^ a b "IRS 990 Filings on AWS". Retrieved October 14, 2017.
^ a b "990 Decoder -- Charity Navigator. ETL toolkit for 2.5 million
electronic nonprofit tax returns released by the IRS". Charity
Navigator. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
^ a b "
Charity Navigator Publishes Software for Decoding Nonprofit
Data". Charity Navigator. February 3, 2017. Retrieved February 10,
Form 990 Search". Citizen Audit. Retrieved
^ "Nonprofit Organization Information". Economic Research Institute.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-23. Retrieved
^ "guidestar.org". guidestar.org. 2014-03-06. Retrieved
^ "nccs.urban.org". nccs.urban.org. 2008-07-15. Retrieved
^ "Learning Center and Store". BoardSource. Archived from the original
on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
^ "More Income Tax Data: Most Exempt Concerns Must
Return". The New York Times. March 24, 1942. p. 34.
^ "FAQ for Donors". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
^ Miniutti, Sandra (February 3, 2017). "First Open Source Release of
Code that Reads Digitized IRS
Form 990 Data".
Charity Navigator Blog.
Retrieved February 10, 2017.
^ Karnofsky, Holden (May 23, 2007). "Don't talk to me about the Form
GiveWell Blog. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
^ "Guide to GiveWell's financial metrics". GiveWell. Retrieved January
^ "Background for Quality 990 Efforts". Archived from the original on
May 15, 2008. Retrieved Janua