“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Or, rather, tax time can be the most wonderful time of the year.

That’s up to you. But one thing’s certain: When your nonprofit must complete its IRS tax form 990 filing, your Andy Williams Christmas Album won’t save you.

Yet just like shopping for holiday gifts, filing your 990 last-minute can lead to chaos.

You may hear some hectic shouting coming from your treasurer’s office. That’s to be expected. But at the end of the day, you both should just breathe and take it one step at a time.

Filing one minute to midnight shouldn’t be the norm, but . . .

You can do this.

If you built your nonprofit from the ground up, you can certainly handle filing your 990—no matter how close to the deadline it is.

File990 is dedicated to helping organizations like yours file your tax documents with the IRS and maintain tax-exempt status.

We understand that it’s human nature to procrastinate. So without further ado, check out our tips on Last-Minute 990 Filing.

When’s Your 990 Due?

The Short Answer:

990 filing is due May 15th of the calendar tax year (or) The 15th day of the 5th month after the last month that concludes your fiscal tax year.

The Full Answer:

Understanding when you have to file will save your financial officers a massive headache down the road.

Regardless of what type of form you must fill out (990, 990-EZ, 990-N, etc.), the deadline is the same. However, when you file still depends on factors related to your organizational structure.

If you’re a single-entity nonprofit, it’s simple. You file based on the due dates mentioned above.

If you’re a nonprofit with multiple chapters, it can be a totally different story. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of multi-chapter nonprofits and how tax filing works for each:

  • Unified corporations have full control over various chapters and bear full liability for their actions, including 990 tax filing.
    • Separate, subsidiary organizations are considered separate entities according to tax law, and maintain their own internal structure, banking, and financial records. Each chapter must file a separate 990 to retain tax-exempt status.
    • Independent chapters also file their own 990 form. If you file for a group exemption, these chapters still file independently but wouldn’t have to apply for individual tax-exempt status.
  • Subsidiary, single-member LLC chapters are each considered a separate entity under tax law. The IRS doesn’t require them to apply for tax-exempt status, and tax filing can be handled through the parent corporation.

Make sure each chapter’s treasurer understands when and how to file their 990 tax forms, or if it’s handled through your parent corporation, make sure your financial officer follows an up-to-date tax calendar for all relevant chapters.

Which 990 Form Are You Filing—and Why Does It Matter?

The Short Answer:

You can learn about filing different 990 forms by clicking here.

The Full Answer:

Let’s recap the basics:

A 990-N (e-postcard) is the simplest 990 form, is fully digital, and asks for only minimal information. It will take less time and effort to fill out than a full 990 form.

It’s for organizations with gross receipts under $50,000.

A 990-EZ is a shorter version of the full 990 form. It may take a little more effort and time than the e-postcard version, and you have the option to mail it in to the IRS directly (keep proof of mailing date for your files), or file electronically.

This form is for organizations with gross receipts less than $200,000 and total assets less than $500,000.

A full 990 form may be required for larger and more established nonprofits. This form takes the most time and effort. It’s a 12-page document that requires information about aspects of your organization such as: management, board members, trustees, and other stakeholders; revenue; functional expenses; net assets; and financial reporting. You may need to send additional documentation.

You’ll file this form if your nonprofit has gross receipts more than or equal to $200,000 or total assets more than or equal to $500,000.

Knowing which form your organization will file allows you to plan and gather the relevant financial records, so you never miss a deadline.

What Happens If Your 990’s Filed Late?

The Short Answer:

You can accrue daily fines totaling up to $50,000, have your tax-exempt status revoked, and go through a lot of mayhem in the process.

The Full Answer:

We hope it doesn’t come to this.

However, mistakes happen. Maybe you flubbed the filing date, and now you’re forced to face the consequences.

Here’s what you’re up against when you file your 990 late:

  1. You’ll face daily fines of $20-$100 dollars based on your total gross receipts.
  2. You can owe up to $50,000 in total fines, depending on your total gross receipts.
  3. Worst of all, after several years of not filing, you’ll lose your tax-exempt status.

Unfortunately, you can’t get a deadline extension. However, if you write a letter to the IRS explaining why your forms are tardy, you may be able to get your fees waived.

The point, however, is to avoid being late altogether.

How Can You File Earlier Next Time?

The Short Answer:

File990 is dedicated to tracking and e-filing your 990-N and 990-EZ tax documents, so you never have to worry about missing another tax deadline.

The Full Answer:

A nonprofit treasurer’s duties must include filing 990 tax forms for her or his organization. It’s simply part of a healthy financial management plan for your organization.

However, you can avoid potential mistakes by planning and preparing to file sooner.

Last-minute tax filing may work once or twice. But eventually, this fly-by-night style of bookkeeping will catch up to you.

One way to ensure quick and easy filing for 990-N or 990-EZ electronic filing is to use an authorized e-filer like File990.

We offer an enterprise tax management option that’s especially useful for multi-chapter and larger organizations, for tracking your tax documents and sending administrative reminders when it’s time to file.

File990 is an industry leader in nonprofit electronic tax filing who works with organizations like yours every day. File your nonprofit tax forms with us today.