Do you know which Form 990-series return you are required to file for the 2010 tax year?  The 990 filing thresholds for the year 2010 and later (filed in 2011 and later) will change as follows for all organizations required to file a 990-series return:
  • Organizations with gross receipts normally < $50,000 must file Form 990-N (but may choose to file a complete Form 990 or Form 990-EZ).  In prior years only organizations with gross receipts normally < $25,000 could file the Form 990-N (“e-postcard”).
  • Organizations with gross receipts > $50,000 and  < $200,000 and total assets < $500,000 must file Form 990-EZ or a complete Form 990.
  • Organizations with gross receipts > $200,000 or total assets > $500,000 must file Form 990.
  • Private foundations must file Form 990-PF.

Form 990 series returns are required to be filed by most tax-exempt organizations, except for church and government-affiliated organizations. Form 990 is the IRS primary tool for gathering information about tax-exempt organizations, for educating organizations about tax law requirements and ensuring their compliance.  Organizations use it to inform the public about their programs.  In addition, most states rely on Form 990 to perform charitable and other regulatory oversight, and to satisfy state income tax filing requirements for organizations claiming exemption from state income tax.

What is Form 990?

Form 990Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, is the annual information return for tax-exempt organizations, including political organizations.

What is Form 990-EZ?

Form 990-EZ is the short form of the annual information return for exempt organizations, including political organizations. A political organization required to file Form 990 that has not exceeded thresholds for the its total gross receipts during the year and total assets at the end of the year may file Form 990-EZ instead of the Form 990.  See Filing Phase-In for more information about the thresholds.

Who has to file Form 990?

Tax-exempt political organizations whose annual gross receipts are $25,000 or more must file Form 990, unless excepted. Any organization excepted from the requirements to file a Form 8871 and any political organization that is a caucus or association or state or local officials are excepted from the Form 990 filing requirement. Qualified state or local political organizations are only required to file Form 990 if they have annual gross receipts of $100,000 or more.

Note:  Organizations whose gross receipts during the year and total assets at the end of the do not exceed certain thresholds may file Form 990-EZ instead of Form 990.  See Political Organizations That May File Form 990-EZ for more information.

Does a tax-exempt political organization whose annual gross receipts are normally $25,000 or more have to file a Form 990 for any year in which its annual gross receipts are less than $25,000?

No.  Unlike other exempt organizations, a tax-exempt political organization does not use the three-year averaging test to determine whether it meets the $25,000 threshold.  The organization should indicate the amount of its gross receipts in the header area of the return (Item G), because the IRS may otherwise correspond with the organization regarding the filing of Form 990.  Note that the $25,000 filing threshold is increased to $100,000 for qualified state or local political organizations.

When is Form 990 due?

Form 990 is due on the 15th day of the 5th month following the end of the organization’s taxable year. For organizations on a calendar year, the Form 990 is due on May 15th of the following year.