Nonprofit Tax Help

David McRee, CPA

When is Form 990 Due to the IRS?

The IRS instructions say that Form 990 or Form 990-EZ must be filed by the 15th day of the 5th month after the organization's accounting period ends.

In plain English, this means four and a half months after the organization's tax year end. Explanation below:

The due dates may be extended by filing Form 8868. Detailed information on filing for an extension of time to file.

Calendar Year Organization Filing Deadline

For a calendar year organization (where the accounting year ends on December 31st), the due date for Form 990 / 990-EZ is May 15th.

Example: Do-Gooder's Charity keeps its books and records on a calendar year basis. For their tax year ending December 31, 2015, their Form 990 / 990-EZ is due May 15, 2016.

June 30 Fiscal Year Organization Filing Deadline

For an organization with a fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, Form 990 / 990-EZ is due November 15th, 2016.

September 30 Fiscal Year Organization Filing Deadline

For an organization with a fiscal year ending September, 2016, Form 990 / 990-EZ is due February 15, 2017.

If your organization has a fiscal year ending other than December 31, be sure you file Form 990 on the correct year's form. This can be confusing. Find out which is the correct year Form 990 to file for your organization.

Other Fiscal Year-Ends

By now, you get the idea. Count four months and 15 days after the organization's year ends, and that is the due date.

Final, Short-Year Returns

An organization that ceases doing business and distributes its assets before the end of its normal tax year-end will have a Form 990 due date that occurs sooner than usual. For instance, assume that Joey's Dog Rescue normally has a December 31 year end with a May 15th due date for its Form 990-EZ. Joey's Dog Rescue ceases doing business, closes its bank account and distributes all of its assets in April 2016. In this case, the final Form 990 will be due September 15, 2016, which is four and one half months after its year end (April 2016). Extensions are available for short-year returns.

Missing a deadline for a short year return can result in significant penalties. However, if the organization can show reasonable cause for missing the deadline, the penalties will be abated. My penalty manual will teach you exactly how to write an effective reasonable cause letter. In fact, one of the sample reasonable cause penalty abatement letters I include in the book deals with such a situation.