Most tax exempt organizations have an annual filing requirement with the Internal Revenue Service. The amount of information your tax preparer will need depends on the organization’s filing responsibility. A tax exempt organization is required to file one of the three types of informational returns, using either Form 990-N, Form 990-EZ, or Form 990.
Form 990-N may be filed if the organization averages $50,000 or less in gross receipts in the prior three consecutive tax years. Items needed to file a 990-N, also known as an e-Postcard include the EIN (Employer Identification Number), the legal name and address of the tax-exempt organization, the name and address of the principal officer, a website address (if applicable). Once this information has been provided, the 990-N can be filed online.
Form 990-EZ, Short Form Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, may be filed if the organization has gross receipts less than $200,000 and total assets less than $500,000. A 990-EZ requires more information than the 990-N. For this level of reporting, most preparers will provide a questionnaire that should be completed. Some important information that needs to be provided includes:

  • Financial statements for the organization’s fiscal year end.
  • Details of the organization’s three largest program services.
  • Name and title of officers, directors, and trustees. If any have reportable compensation, please include their W-2 or 1099-MISC statement, along with the average hours per week devoted to their titled position.
  • Contributions given to the organization, directly or indirectly, including money, securities, or any other type of property that totals $5,000 or more for the tax year. The client will need to provide the contributor’s name and address.

Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, is filed if the organization has gross receipts greater than or equal to $200,000 or total assets greater than or equal to $500,000. To complete a 990, these larger tax-exempt organizations will need to provide all of the information mentioned for the 990-EZ, along with many more documents based on the organization’s activities. A client’s CPA will provide them with a questionnaire that is more in depth than the 990-EZ questionnaire. Based on the answers provided, the CPA may need additional information on fundraising, grants, investments, and more. Any questions the client may have should be directed to their CPA in order to make sure they complete the questionnaire thoroughly and correctly.
The 990-N, 990-EZ, and 990 have an original due date of the 15th day of the 5th month after the close of the client’s tax year. For example, if the organization has a December 31st year end, its 2016 return would be due May 15, 2017. Only the 990-EZ and 990 can be extended for an additional 6 months from the initial filing deadline. For instance, if the organization’s deadline was May 15, 2017, it would be able to be extended to November 15, 2017, if necessary. Failure to file the return on time will lead to daily penalties of $20 to $100, depending on the amount of the organization’s gross receipts. Therefore, it is important that the client gets their information to the CPA in a timely manner.
In summary, the more complex your not-for-profit entity, the more information that is required to complete the appropriate version of Form 990. Providing the information to your CPA in a timely manner helps ensure that the board of directors will have a chance to review the 990 before filing the return and avoid assessment of penalties.
To learn more about Not-For-Profit Organization – What to Provide Your CPA, call Jennifer Hill at (318) 429-2048 or email For more information on the services available to you by Heard, McElroy & Vestal, LLC, call our Shreveport office at (318) 429-1525, our Monroe office at (318) 388-3108 or visit

Author : Jennifer Hill, CPA, Tax Manager