Form 990 Instructions

For nonprofit organizations, the IRS Form 990 is the key document. It is the source of financial information about the organization, and the government uses it to protect its tax-exempt status. Let's learn more about it.

Form 990, required by the IRS, is a detailed report of an organization’s finances. If you’re unsure of what this document requires, it’s best to seek professional tax advice. It also helps the government understand the nature of the nonprofit so that it can prevent abuses of its status. In this article, you will find detailed information on Form 990 Instructions in this post.

Form 990 is required annually by tax-exempt organizations. It includes information about your organization’s revenue, expenditures, and governance. The purpose of this form is to provide the IRS with the information it needs to verify the organization’s tax-exempt status. In addition, it serves as an official document that is widely available to the public.

The instructions and glossary on the form provide guidance for filling out this form. It also includes a section on the accomplishments of your organization. These accomplishments must justify your organization’s tax-exempt status.

Your organization’s tax-exempt status is publicly available, so it is important to fill out the form accurately. It’s also a good way for donors to assess the level of transparency in your organization. When completed correctly, the form will present your organization in a positive light.

Form 990 Instructions
Form 990 Instructions 1

How to Fill Out Form 990?

Select the correct form.

FormGross income
990N$50,000 or less
990EZ$50,001 – $200,000 or $500,000 ( total assets )
990Over $200,000

Collect your financial records.

You need the following to complete an IRS 990N return:

  • The legal name of the organization
  • The name of one officer
  • The total gross receipts for the organization over the past fiscal year

You need the following to complete the form 990EZ and a full 990 form:

  • the beginning cash & asset balance on day 1 of your fiscal year
  • the ending cash balance on the last day of your fiscal year
  • all of the income is categorized and totaled by type (contributions, membership dues, revenue from tax-exempt programs, fundraising income, income from product sales, sponsorship income, and other income)
  • the donor list (list of donors and the number of contributions by each)

File your forms on time with the IRS.

  • IRS Form 990-series tax returns are due on the 15th day of the 5th month after the close of your fiscal year (e.g. May 15 for calendar year filers)

Filing Out Form 990-N e-Postcard

You should fill out Form 990-N e-Postcard if your organization’s annual gross receipts of less than $50,000.

  1. Visit IRS’ e-post card page to register as a new user if you are new.
  2. Enter YOUR organization’s EIN. The organization name will appear as “YourOrgName” because the IRS sees you as a subordinate organization under the name “YourOrgName” in their system. No need to worry; it happens on the first page.
  3. Enter your organization’s name in the second page’s DBA (Doing Business As) field.

The filing deadline for Form 990 is the 15th day of the fifth month following the end of the organization’s accounting period. If the organization has a calendar year-end, this means it must file its return by the end of May 15. However, this date can fall on a weekend or a legal holiday. The organization must file a separate attachment stating why it has stopped operations in such cases.

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