Nonprofit Tax Help

David McRee, CPA

IRS Form 990-N Information

Help with Form 990-N

If your organization needs help in meeting its Form 990-N requirement, I can help. By having you answer a couple of questions, I can fill out and submit the Form 990-N for you. My fee is $100. Contact me and I'll be glad to assist you. Be aware that you can easily fill out and submit Form 990-N by yourself online. Scroll down this page for more information under "How Do I Submit Form 990-N."

Note that Form 990-N is a federal requirement. Additional state filing requirements may or may not apply to your organization.

What is Form 990-N?

Form 990-N is an electronic form that is to be used by nonprofits to meet the new notification requirement for nonprofit entities not required to file a Form 990 or Form 990-EZ. If your organization has not been required to file form 990 / 990-EZ because its gross receipts are not normally more than $25,000 ($50,000 for tax years ending 12/31/2010 or later), your organization will be required to submit Form 990-N for any tax year beginning after 12/31/2006. The purpose of the form is to notify the IRS that your organization is not required to file a Form 990 or 990-EZ, and to verify its continued existence and qualification. Churches do not have to file Form 990-N. Scroll to the bottom of this page for a list of organizations that are exempted from filine Form 990-N.

Note: If your organization has been filing Form 990-N (or any of the other 990 Forms) even though it is not required to do so, you should continue filing.

Note 2: If your nonprofit organization has not applied to the IRS for official recognition of its tax exempt status using Form 1023 or 1024, see additional information further down the page.

If our organization files Form 990 or 990-EZ, do we also have to file Form 990-N?

No! Do not file Form 990-N if you are filing Form 990 or Form 990-EZ.

What is the authority for this new requirement?

Internal Revenue Code Section 6033(i)(1)(A) through (F), effective 11/15/2007.

What information will my organization have to provide to the IRS on Form 990-N?

Section 6033(i)(1) states that Form 990-N shall provide:

The legal name of the organization.
Any name under which the organization operates or does business.
The organizations mailing address and web site address (if any).
The organization's taxpayer identification number.
The name and address of a principal officer.
Evidence of the continuing basis for the organization's exemption from filing Form 990 / 990-EZ.
Any other information necessary to process the return (such as the tax period for which the notice is being submitted).

When do I have to submit Form 990-N?

Form 990-N has the same due date as form 990 and Form 990-EZ, which must be filed on or before the 15th day of the 5th month following the end of the tax year for which the notification is being submitted. If your organization's tax year ends on December 31st, Form 990-N must be submitted on or before May 15th of the following year. If your organization has a June 30 year end, Form 990-N is due November 15th. There is no provision for an extension of time to submit Form 990-N (other than the one-time filing relief which expired 10/15/2010).

How do I submit Form 990-N?

Form 990-N will have to be submitted using a computer. You will go to the website designated by the IRS, which will allow you to type the information into the computer and submit it electronically to the IRS. The IRS has designated the Urban Institute website as the place to file Form 990-N online UNTIL FEBRUARY 28, 2016. Urban Institute Form 990-N. Beginning February 29, 2016, the Form 990-N must be filed on the IRS's own website. More info here:

As with most government websites, expect bugs and glitches as the IRS implements their own 990-N filing website. The IRS recommends that you try to file your 990-N by February 28, 2016 to avoid issues. Apparently they do not have much confidence that their own website will work.

How do I submit Form 990-N for a prior year?

Please note that you cannot submit a prior year Form 990 using the Urban Institute's website, but there are authorized web sites that provide prior-year Form 990-N filing.

The IRS does not require that prior year Form 990-N's be "caught up," and there is no monetary penalty for not filing a 990-N for one or two years. But, the IRS may send a reminder notice or a demand that a 990-N be filed for a prior year. Until recently, there has been no option other than to go to a professional tax preparer that has software capable of filing 990-N for previous years.

There is now an authorized online e-file provider that will allow you to register (free) and file a current year 990-N (free), or file the previous two years' 990-N for a small fee ($9.95). The web site is

Caution: Using online software to file your Form 990-N is something most anyone should be able to do without screwing it up. However, I do NOT recommend that any organization prepare their own Form 990-EZ or Form 990.

The 990 forms are very specialized and it is too easy to get in trouble and owe a large penalty for filing an incorrect or incomplete return. I say this based on many years of experience dealing with self-prepared returns.

How does our organization show that it continues to be exempt from Form 990 / 990-EZ filing requirements?

IRC Section 6001 requires that all organizations maintain records. These records will provide evidence of the continuing basis for the organization's exemption from Form 990 / 990-EZ filing requirements. In other words, your accounting records will prove that your organization's gross receipts are below the $50,000 filing threshhold ($25,000 for tax years ending before December 31, 2010). Form 990-N will require that you simply state that the organization's annual receipts are normally $50,000 or less ($25,000 for tax years ending before December 31, 2010). It will ask for the organization's web site URL (if any), and for the name and address of the principal officer of the organization. There is also a place to indicate if the organization is going out of business. You will need to know the organizations Employer Identification Number (EIN) in order to file Form 990-N.

What if I don't have access to an internet connected computer? Is there a paper form 990-N that I can file?

No. There is no paper Form 990-N. The statute requires that the annual notification on Form 990-N be submitted electronically. There is no provision for any paper Form. You can file from a friend or relative's computer, or use the computer at your local public library. If you absolutely cannot access a computer connected to the internet, you may file Form 990 or 990-EZ instead of Form 990-N. However, you must fill out the ENTIRE Form 990 / 990-EZ, not just the parts that correspond to Form 990-N. This means that if you are a 501(c)(3) you will also have to fill out Schedule A. Other schedules may also be required.

Our organization is small, but we have unrelated business income and we file a Form 990-T every year. Does this mean we don't have to file Form 990-N?

Filing Form 990-T does not relieve the organization from the requirement to submit Form 990-N.

Filing Form 990-N does not relieve the organization from the requirement to file Form 990-T if there is unrelated business taxable income to report.

Is the information we provide about our organization on Form 990-N open to public inspection, just like Form 990?

Yes, the Form 990-N is subject to the public disclosure and inspection requirements of IRC section 6104. When you submit Form 990-N electronically, there should be a form to print to indicate to show that you filed.

What are the penalties for not submitting Form 990-N?

Section 6652(c)(1)(E) of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 provides that there is no monetary penalty for failure to submit Form 990-N. However, if your organization fails to submit Form 990-N for 3 years in a row, the penalty is AUTOMATIC REVOCATION of your tax exempt status!!!!! The revocation is effective beginning the date the IRS determines was the last day the organization could have timely filed the third required Form 990-N.

If our tax exempt status is revoked for not filing Form 990-N for three consecutive years, can we get it back?

Any organization whose tax-exempt status is revoked for this reason must apply to the IRS using Form 1023 or Form 1024 (whichever is applicable) in order to obtain reinstatement regardless of whether such organization was originally required to make an application for tax-exempt status. If, upon application for reinstatement of tax-exempt status, an organization can show to the IRS that there was reasonable cause for the failure to submit Form 990-N as required, the IRS may, at its discretion, reinstate the organization's tax exempt status RETROACTIVE to the date of revocation. However, experience has show that reinstatement is easy to get,  retroactive reinstatement is nearly impossible to achieve.

This is a harsh penalty. Think about it. Even if you have a very good reason for not submitting Form 990-N, you have to go through all the hassle and expense of re-applying for tax-exempt status, even if you were not originally required to do so (perhaps because your annual gross receipts are less than $5,000). Ouch!

Organizations Not Formally Recognized By The IRS as Tax Exempt

The IRS has numerous exceptions to the requirement to apply for official IRS recognition of tax-exempt status by filing Form 1023 or 1024. For example, if your 501(c)(3) organization normally has gross receipts of $5,000 or less annually, it is not required to apply. Also, if your organization falls under section 501(c)(4), (c)(6), or (c)(7), and certain others, you do not technically have to apply. However, the IRS has taken the position that it will not accept a Form 990, Form 990-EZ, or a Form 990-N from an organization that has not applied for recognition of exempt status. In other words, your Form 990-N will be rejected and you will not be able to meet the new notification requirements.

So, at least 45 days before submitting Form 990-N, an officer or other authorized representative of your organization must call the IRS Exempt Organization Division at 1-877-829-5500 and explain that your nonprofit organization needs to submit Form 990-N but has not applied for tax exempt status with the IRS. They will ask you some questions and create a file for you in their computer. It takes 45 days to process your file. You must wait until after your file is set up and processed before you can submit Form 990-N. This is why you need to call the IRS before April 1st, if possible, to get the ball rolling.

The IRS has a page with information on Form 990-N.

What organizations are exempt from the Form 990-N submission requirements?

The following types of organizations do not have to submit Form 990-N:

Organizations that are filing Form 990-EZ or Form 990.
An organization covered under a group return.
A private foundation that is required to file Form 990-PF
A church, an interchurch organization of local units of a church, a convention or association of churches, or an integrated auxiliary of a church.
An exclusively religious activity of any religious order.
A mission society sponsored by or affiliated with one or more churches or church denominations, more than half of the activities of which are conducted in, or directed at persons in, foreign countries.
An educational organization, below college level, that is a publicly supported charity that has a program of a general academic nature, and that is affiliated with a church or operated by a religious order.
A state institution, the income of which is excluded from gross income under section 115(a).
An organization described in section 501(c)(1), or an organization that is a governmental unit or an affiliate of a governmental unit exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(a) as described in Rev. Proc. 95-48.
A black lung trust required to file Form 990-BL.