Now that the filing season for personal income tax returns has closed, tax professionals everywhere can take a much-deserved breather. Right?
Not so fast.
Another filing deadline lurks just around the corner, albeit not as wide-ranging as the one just past.
Many tax-exempt organizations have to file on or before May 16. This includes those groups that operate on a calendar-year basis and those that file certain informational returns. The May deadline involves:
- Form 990-series annual information returns (Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF)
- Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations Not Required to File Form 990 or Form 990-EZ
- Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (other than certain trusts)
- Form 4720, Return of Certain Excise Taxes Under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code
There's only one way to file
Unlike regular income tax returns, many of these tax-exempt returns can only be filed electronically, providing the organization with speedy acknowledgements that the return has been filed with the IRS. It also cuts processing time, and that makes compliance with reporting requirements easier.
Those filing a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF or 990-T for the 2021 calendar year are required to file electronically, as are private foundations filing a Form 4720 for 2021.
An IRS Authorized e-File Provider can file these forms electronically for charities and other tax-exempt groups.
If an organization is required to submit a Form 990-N, the form must be e-filed. They can send it in to the IRS using the Form 990-N (e-Postcard) tool on IRS.gov.
For those unsure just what form their organization needs to file, help is available.
"To help exempt organizations comply with their filing requirements, the IRS provides a series of pre-recorded online workshops," said Robert Malone, Exempt Organizations and Government Entities Director. "These workshops are designed to assist officers, board members and volunteers with the steps they need to take to maintain their tax-exempt status, including filing annual information returns."
As with individual income tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service stresses the importance of sending in complete and accurate returns when submitting these tax-exempt informational returns.
If a return is incomplete or is the wrong return for the organization, the return will be rejected. The agency says the most common mistakes for these kinds of return are missing or incomplete schedules.
For those organizations who need additional time to file, a six-month automatic extension is available by filing Form 8868, Application for Extension of Time to File an Exempt Organization Return.
As with regular income tax returns, extending the time to file doesn’t give the filer more time to pay any tax that may be due. Tax-exempt organizations requesting extensions are encouraged to file Form 8868 electronically.