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Nonprofits Required to File Electronic Returns

For 990 must be filed electronically

Most nonprofit organizations are required to file annual returns with IRS regardless that no tax is due and no matter how small their revenue. These informational returns are usually a version of Form 990. 

If your nonprofit organization is not already filing your returns electronically, be prepared to begin doing so. A new law passed in 2019 requires many not-for-profit forms to be filed electronically starting this year or soon after.

The following IRS forms must be submitted electronically for tax years beginning after July 1, 2019:

  • Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax.
  • Form 990-PF, Return of Private Foundation or Section 4947(a)(1) Trust Treated as Private Foundation.
  • Form 8872, Political Organization Report of Contributions and Expenditures.
  • Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income (if filed by a Section 501(d) apostolic organization).

In addition, the following forms may be filed electronically, although it is not yet mandatory:

  • Form 990-EZ, Short Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax*
  • Form 8868, Application for Extension of Time to File an Exempt Organization Return
  • Form 1120-POL, U.S. Income Tax Return of Political Organizations
  • Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns (extension form for Form 1120-POL)

*For tax years ending before July 31, 2021, the IRS will accept either paper or electronic filing of Form 990-EZ. For tax years ending July 31, 2021, and later, the 990-EZ must be filed electronically. 

As for Form 990-T Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, and Form 4720, Return of Certain Excise Taxes, e-filing remains optional. The IRS will accept these forms on paper pending conversion to electronic format. The IRS plans to have these returns ready for e-filing in 2021 (reporting on tax year 2020).

Small tax-exempt organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less can file Form 990-N instead of Form 990 or Form 990-EZ. This is an electronic e-postcard filing and filers must register at https://www.irs.gov/ before filing the 990-N.

Charities and non-profits who file their returns without the assistance of a CPA or certified professional tax preparer should review the IRS’s website of IRS Authorized e-File Providers if they need help migrating to electronic filings.

As a reminder, an organization’s 990 filing is a public document used by potential supporters, agencies, and charity watchdogs.  Make sure that your nonprofit's board reviews the form before it's filed, and that it is thoughtfully and accurately completed.

For more, please see:  “Recent legislation requires tax-exempt organizations to e-file forms” and “e-File for Charities and Nonprofits”

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