IRS Form 990

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Form 990, titled “Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax”, is a report that must be filed each year with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by organizations exempt from Federal income taxes under section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code.

[1] These organizations have annual receipts at "normally" more than $25,000 a year. [1] The form is an information return and not an income tax return since the organizations that file it do not pay income taxes.[1]


The Form 990 serves two essential purposes: it provides information that helps government agencies enforce the laws that govern nonprofits.[1] The Form 990 also provides a great deal of financial information about the filing organization’s financial condition and about the sources of its income.[1]

Which organizations must file?

An organization which "normally" receives more than $25,000 a year if its gross receipts for the immediately preceding three tax years average $25,000 per year or more must file Form 990.[1]

Organizations with gross receipts of less than $100,000 and total assets less than $25,000 at the end of the year may file a short-form Form 990 called Form 990-EZ.[1] Organizations that are classified as private foundations (generally organizations that receive funding from a very few sources) are required to file a Form 990-PF.[1]


Many different kinds of nonprofit organizations are exempt under section 501 of the Code.

  • Faith-based organizations.[2] Churches are not required to file a Form 990 but may do so voluntarily.[1]
  • Subsidiaries of other nonprofits.[2]
  • Nonprofits not in the system yet. If you are a nonprofit in your state but haven't applied to the IRS for exemption from federal income tax, you don't have to file a Form 990.[2]
  • Religious schools.[2]
  • Missions or missionary organizations.[2]
  • State institutions. Some state institutions are exempt because they provide essential services (a university is an example).[2]
  • Government corporations.[2]


The Form 990 is a very public document and it is becoming more public.[1] Today an organization’s Forms 990 for the past three years must be shown to anyone who wants to see them. In addition, copies of these forms must be given to anyone who requests them and who pays a reasonable fee -- $1 for the first page and 15 cents for every page thereafter.[1] Furthermore, most Forms 990 beginning with the year 1997 are being posted on the Internet by the National Center for Charitable Statistics and Guidestar, two nonprofit groups in the Washington D.C., area.[1] Finally, it is only a matter of time before all charities will be required to file their Forms 990 electronically. Thus, virtually every Form 990 is or soon will be accessible by anyone in the world.[1]

External links


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 How to Read the IRS Form 990 & Find Out What it Means
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Things You Need to Know About Form 990