Potentially urgent info for small nonprofits

An AP article suggests that many small US nonprofits that make under $25,000 a year could (at least temporarily) lose their nonprofit status if they don't file a particular IRS form by today; the article says that a lot of organizations don't know they need to file the form.

Fortunately, the IRS website has lots of info about form 990-N, and as far as I can tell, things are not quite as disastrously bad as the article makes it sound. For example, organizations don't lose tax-exempt status unless they fail to file for three consecutive years.

But I think that means that if you're the person who handles taxes for a small nonprofit and you've never filed this form, you need to do so today; if I understand the AP article right, this past year was the third tax year for which the form was required, so today may be your third strike. (However, I'm having a hard time finding details about whether today is really the third time or not.)

At any rate, if you're a small tax-exempt organization, it can't hurt to file today. Filing is done electronically. Note that the server that handles the filing appears to be a little overloaded/slow today.

If you're not sure whether your organization has filed in past years, you can use the IRS's search form to search for your organization's name.

If you fail to file for three consecutive years and you lose your tax-exempt status, it is possible to get reinstated as a tax-exempt organization, but I think you have to re-apply (and re-pay the application fee), which would presumably be a big pain.

For more info about all this, see the IRS's 990-N FAQ, especially the FAQ item about automatic loss of tax-exempt status; see also their 990-N educational tools pages.

And if you're not part of a small nonprofit but you know someone who is, might not be a bad idea to mention this to them.

Btw, in case you're wondering, here's the info that the 990-N requires (and note that this all becomes public information):

  1. Organization's legal name
  2. Any other names the organization uses
  3. Organization's mailing address
  4. Organization's website address, if it has one
  5. Organization's employer identification number
  6. Name and address of a principal officer of the organization
  7. Organization's annual tax year
  8. Answers to the following questions:
    • Are your gross receipts normally $25,000 or less?
    • Has your organization terminated or gone out of business?

Join the Conversation