Nobody wants to file a form 990 extension.

Nonprofit financial officers have a lot on their plates. Pushing back deadlines only compounds the tasks you need to complete in your stacked schedule.

Yet you need to file your IRS 990 forms at the end of each tax year. Not filing or filing late has consequences, which can significantly impact you and your organization.

Ideally, you’d take steps to ensure you file your tax forms correctly and on time, situations can arise that require you to push back your filing. In the hectic world of nonprofit fundraising, you never know what hurdles you may face, forcing you to adjust your financial management strategies accordingly.

By filing the Form 8868, you can receive an automatic 6-month filing extension for most common types of nonprofit, such as a 501(c)(3).

If you find you’re in need of requesting a 990 filing extension, File 990 can help answer your most pressing questions, so you don’t end up screaming, “Oh [Bleep]! I Need to File a Form 990 Extension!”

When Is Your 990 Form Due?

According to the IRS, your 990 form “must be filed by the 15th day of the 5th month after the end of your organization’s accounting period.”’

An organization going by the typical calendar year would file by May 15th of the following year.

However, many nonprofits end their tax cycle in June, so the deadline in that case would be November 15th.

See a full explanation of nonprofit 990 filing deadlines here.

What does it mean to file for an extension?

You can request an automatic 6-month filing extension for most 990 and nonprofit tax forms using form 8868. 

Download Form 8868 Here.

However, you cannot use this form to request an extension for a 990-N (e-Postcard).

You must either file your form 8868 electronically or mail it to the following address by the deadline when your 990 form would have been due:

Department of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service Center

Ogden, UT 84201-0045

You must file for an extension for each return. You can’t send a single form to cover multiple tax filings. You also cannot extend the deadline for filing beyond 6 months. Additional instructions are included on the 8868 form linked above.

Note: Filing for an extension for your tax filing does not extend the deadline for any taxes owed. As a nonprofit, it’s likely your organization is tax exempt. But if you’re not, ensure you pay on time.

Who Can File for an Extension?

Using the 8868 form, the IRS lists the following groups as able to file for an automatic 6-month deadline extension:

The IRS also states that “corporations required to file an income tax return other than Form 990-T (including 1120-C filers), partnerships, REMICs, and trusts must use Form 7004 to request an extension of time to file income tax returns.”

What Are the Most Common 990 Forms? Where Can You Find Them Online?

Some of the most common forms your nonprofit may file include:

Form 990: for eligible tax-exempt nonprofits with gross receipts greater than or equal to $200,000 or (2) total assets greater than or equal to $500,000 at the end of the tax year.

Form 990-EZ: for eligible tax-exempt nonprofits with gross receipts less than $200,000 and total assets at the end of the tax year less than $500,000.

Form 990-N (e-Postcard): for eligible tax-exempt nonprofits with annual gross receipts $50,000 or less.

Form 990-PF: for private foundations, either taxable or tax exempt, as well as nonexempt charitable trusts treated as private foundations under U.S. tax code.

Form 1120-POL: for certain political and other organizations who are ineligible to file 990 forms.

See a full explanation of online 990 and other nonprofit tax forms here.

What Are the Penalties for Late or Missed Filing?

Not filing your forms or a request for an extension by the deadline can have compounding consequences for your organization that will cost you time and money.

Here are common penalties if your tax filing is incomplete, late, or you don’t file:

If your nonprofit grosses less than $1,000,000 per tax year, late filing without reasonable cause will land you with a penalty of $20 per day, up to a total of $10,000 in fines or 5 percent of your total gross receipts—whichever amounts to less.

If your nonprofit grosses $1,000,000 or more per tax year, the fine increases to $100 per day that you don’t file.

If your nonprofit doesn’t file for 3 consecutive years, you’re likely to lose your tax-exempt status with the IRS. 

You can apply to have your tax-exempt status retroactively reinstated if you have reasonable cause for missing these deadlines, though it’s obviously better to avoid this in the first place.

How Do I Avoid Extended Filing in the Future?

Having a solid filing strategy come tax time will help your organization keep its tax-exempt status, as well as saving you the headache of having to extend your filing deadline.

Using an IRS certified e-Filer can ensure you never again have to worry about missing a filing deadline, and it will potentially save you hours of effort that could be spent on other projects.

File 990 offers secure, professional e-Filing services for your 990-EZ or 990-N tax forms. 

We also provide:

  • secure storage of your organization’s information, so it’s easier to file with us in subsequent years
  • reminders when it’s time to file, so you never miss another deadline 
  • our enterprise suite option for organizations with multiple chapters or components, so each component files correctly and maintains its tax-exempt status

If you have questions, get in touch with File 990 here.

Or get started e-filing your nonprofit tax forms with us today.