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Form 990 Season is Upon (Some of) Us: Here are a Few Things to Know

Form 990 Season is Upon (Some of) Us: Here are a Few Things to Know

If you follow a calendar year at your nonprofit, May 15 marks one of the most important deadlines of the year: Form 990 filing day. Depending on the groundwork laid, technology implemented, and workflows in place, Form 990 day could be either be peaceful or stressful.

Form 990: Due 4 Months, 15 Days after the End of Your Fiscal Year

For foundations, nonprofits, charities, unions and other organizations that intend to maintain their nonprofit status for the coming years, the Form 990 is a necessary piece of paperwork that needs to be filed four and a half months after the end of an entity’s fiscal year. This public document provides fiscal data for the entity, names of trustees and officers, application information, and a complete grants list.

Filing Dates

The last day to file without an extension in 2018 is Tuesday, May 15, 2018 for organizations operating on a calendar year.

Fiscal Year End Form 990 Due Extension Due Date Fiscal Year
12/31/2017 5/15/2018 11/15/2018 2017
3/31/2018 8/15/2018 2/15/2019 2017
6/30/2018 11/15/2018 5/15/2019 2017
9/30/2018 2/15/2019 8/15/2019 2017

For additional filing and extension dates for non-quarterly organizations click here.

What Goes into a Form 990

The Form 990 consists of many parts designed to give readers as much transparency as possible as they look to compare your organization with others. From funding sources to trustees to outgoing money and more, Form 990 helps everyone to understand the who, what, where, why, and when of a nonprofit organization.

Types of Form 990

For some smaller organizations, this could be as simple as a postcard, but for growing, mid-sized, and global nonprofits, new requirements appear:

Variant Size Requirements
Form 990-N (E-Postcard) Gross Receipts <$50,000 Complete and file electronically. Items included on the E-Postcard are as follows:

1.       Employer identification number (EIN), also known as a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

2.       Tax year

3.       Legal name and mailing address

4.       Any other names the organization uses

5.       Name and address of a principal officer

6.       Web site address if the organization has one

7.       Confirmation that the organization’s annual gross receipts are $50,000 or less

8.       If applicable, a statement that the organization has terminated or is terminating (going out of business)

Form 990-EZ Gross Receipts $50,000-$200,000, Total assets <$500,000 Form 990-EZ is the short version of the Form 990, consisting of six parts:

1.       Part I. Revenue, Expenses, and Changes in Net Assets or Fund Balances

2.       Part II. Balance Sheets

3.       Part III. Statement of Program Service Accomplishments

4.       Part IV. List of Officers, Directors, Trustees, and Key Employees

5.       Part V. Other Information

6.       Part VI. Section 501(c)(3) Organizations

Form 990 Gross Receipts >$200,000 or total assets exceeding $500,000 The standard form, Form 990 includes 12 sections:

1.       Part I. Summary

2.       Part II. Signature Block

3.       Part III. Statement of Program Service Accomplishments

4.       Part IV. Checklist of Required Schedules

5.       Part V. Statements Regarding Other IRS Filings and Tax Compliance

6.       Part VI. Governance, Management and Disclosure

7.       Part VII. Compensation of Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors

8.       Part VIII. Statement of Revenue

9.       Part IX. Statement of Functional Expenses

10.   Part X. Balance Sheet

11.   Part XI. Reconciliation of Net Assets

12.   Part XII. Financial Statements and Reporting

Additional information may be required.

Form 990-PF Private Foundations The 990-PF is the information return U.S. private foundations file with the Internal Revenue Service. For more information, see “Demystifying Form 990-PF” by the Foundation Center.

Additional Information Disclosure

In addition to the Form 990, some organizations may have to attach additional schedule documents:

  • Public Charity Status and Public Support (Schedule A)
  • Schedule of Contributors (Schedule B)
  • Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities (Schedule C)
  • Supplemental Financial Statements (Schedule D)
  • Schools (Schedule E)
  • Statement of Activities Outside the United States (Schedule F)
  • Supplemental Information Regarding Fundraising or Gaming Activities (Schedule G)
  • Hospitals (Schedule H)
  • Grants and Other Assistance to Organizations, Governments, and Individuals in the United States (Schedule I)
  • Compensation Information (Schedule J)
  • Supplemental Information on Tax-Exempt Bonds (Schedule K)
  • Transactions With Interested Persons (Schedule L)
  • Noncash Contributions (Schedule M)
  • Liquidation, Termination, Dissolution, or Significant Disposition of Assets (Schedule N)
  • Supplemental Information to Form 990 (Schedule O)
  • Related Organizations and Unrelated Partnerships (Schedule R).

Why Form 990 Matters So Much

Just as a 10-K provides potential investors the needed information they need to make an educated decision about a publicly-traded company’s financial health, a Form 990 lets donors, grantors, regulators, and more to make an informed decision on where they put their monetary support. With new tax laws in place that have doubled the standard deduction, donations are made with less focus on “last minute tax deductions” and more focus on “doing good with extra money.”

This means that the competition has heated up, and donors will put more effort into finding a nonprofit that will do more good with their money. Alas, it’s more important than ever for a nonprofit organization to prove they are making money work toward the mission, and the Form 990 is the first of many ways you can communicate this.

As you look toward Form 990 season and work to develop your ongoing communication efforts, piecing together the right information at the right time will be your path to success.

Keep the Conversation Going: Big Picture Metrics All Year Long

We’ve been talking about important metrics (and ones that seem important but aren’t) for a while now, and would like to discuss with you a new tool designed to help you view, interpret, and communicate your nonprofit metrics more easily and accurately than ever with minimal manual effort.

Financial SCANSM (Situation and Comparables Analysis) helps you better understand or communicate a nonprofit’s financial health and resource needs. It combines GuideStar’s IRS Forms 990 data and Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) expert analysis in an easy-to-use tool with shareable formats that bring insight to financial information and support mission-driven decisions.

Through a new partnership between Sage Intacct and GuideStar, nonprofit organizations now have the ability to look at numbers and metrics like never before—all while cutting out the spreadsheets and manual processes out of their workflows. Affordable and advanced, nonprofits can leverage this technology to analyze their finances, simplify reporting, and do their job better. Financial SCAN is available in a weekly Express Pass and an Annual Subscription, and is built into the Sage Intacct Dashboard for easy use.

We will be presenting more information on this partnership and technology on May 23, 2018 in an upcoming webinar. In this webinar you will learn more about the new Nonprofit Financial Board Book, where nonprofits can:

  • Gain real-time visibility into key revenue composition and source
  • Monitor organization health with key metric visualizations
  • Guide discussions with “Questions to Consider” content
  • Navigate directly to GuideStar for benchmarking

A demo of the new tool will also be provided. Click here to register or learn more.


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