It’s pretty well known that exempt organizations’ current Form 990s or equivalent filings (990-EZ, 990-PF, etc.) are required to be available for public inspection. However, did you know these public disclosure requirements extend to the organization’s three most recent Form 990s or equivalent filings, the organization’s application for tax exempt status (Form 1023/1024) filed with the IRS, and any written correspondence received from the IRS concerning the application? It is possible for anyone to request these files from the IRS (using Form 4506-A), but it is also required for an organization to provide these files to anyone who requests them. The guidance below will help your organization be ready to meet these requirements.
The specific public disclosure and availability requirements have a tax-exempt organization:
- Make its application for recognition of exemption and its annual information returns available for public inspection without charge at its principal, regional, and district offices during regular business hours;
- Make each annual information return available for a period of three years beginning on the date the return is required to be filed (determined with regard to any extension of time for filing) or is actually filed, whichever is later; and
- Provide a copy without charge (for Form 990-T, this requirement applies only to filings of Form 990-T after August 17, 2006), other than a reasonable fee for reproduction and actual postage costs, of all or any part of any application or return required to be made available for public inspection to any individual who makes a request for a copy in person or in writing. In-person requests must be met immediately, while written requests need to be met within 30 days of the received writing.
So what will you need to provide if an individual walks into your place of business and requests a copy of your Form 990? These annual returns include:
- A copy of the Form 990 filed by a tax-exempt organization. See note below about contributor information on Schedule B.
- Any amended return the organization files with the IRS after the date the original return is filed (both the original and amended return are subject to the public inspection requirements).
- An exact copy of Form 990-T if one is filed by a section 501(c)(3) organization.
The annual return copy must include all information furnished to the IRS on Form 990, 990-PF, 990-EZ, or 990-T as well as all statements, attachments, and supporting documents. A special note about Schedule B, Schedule of contributors: for any organization other than a private foundation or a 527 political organization, Schedule B must exclude the names and addresses of contributors. Private foundations and 527 political organizations must disclose names and addresses. Also, statements, attachments, and supporting documents filed with Form 990-T that do not relate to the imposition of unrelated business income tax aren’t required to be made available for public inspection and copying.
For any additional questions regarding the requirements to make your exempt organization’s 990 filings and exemption application available for public inspection, please contact Margot Burke at firstname.lastname@example.org or your local Blue & Co. advisor.