IRS Reminds Tax-Exempts About Deadline to File Form 990

During a previous project, the agency found some organizations didn’t know their tax-exempt status affected their eligibility to sponsor a 403(b) plan.

The IRS has issued a reminder that the deadline for tax-exempt organizations that operate on a calendar-year (CY) basis to file certain annual information and tax returns is May 17.

The returns include:

  • Form 990-series annual information returns (Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, 990-BL);
  • Form 990-N, “Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations Not Required to File Form 990 or Form 990-EZ;”
  • Form 990-T, “Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (other than certain trusts);” and
  • Form 4720, “Return of Certain Excise Taxes Under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code.”

To help exempt organizations comply with their filing requirements, the IRS has provided a series of pre-recorded online workshops.

By law, organizations that fail to file annual reports for three consecutive years will see their federal tax exemptions automatically revoked as of the due date of the third year they are required to file. The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) mandates that most tax-exempt organizations file annual Form 990-series information returns or notices with the IRS. The law, which went into effect at the beginning of 2007, also imposed a new annual filing requirement for small organizations. Churches and church-related organizations are not required to file annual reports.

Losing tax-exempt status can affect an organization’s ability to offer 403(b) plans. In 2014 and 2015, the IRS Employee Plans Compliance Unit conducted a project related to 403(b) plan sponsorship eligibility for organizations that lost their 501(c)(3) exempt status due to the automatic revocation for not filing a required return for three consecutive years. Some entities were unaware that their 501(c) status affected their eligibility to sponsor a 403(b) plan.

The IRS publishes a list of, and mails notices to, organizations whose tax-exempt status has been automatically revoked.

Tax-exempt organizations that need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request an automatic extension by filing Form 8868, “Application for Extension of Time to File an Exempt Organization Return.” An organization will be allowed a six-month extension beyond the original due date. In situations where tax is due, extending the time for filing a return does not extend the time for paying the tax. The IRS encourages organizations requesting an extension to electronically file Form 8868.