Annual Filing Requirements for Charities


Have you gotten complacent over the years, thinking that because you’re tax exempt, you don’t need to file a tax return?  It happens– and more often than many of us think.  So, you’re not alone.

If you have an existing 501(c)(3) tax exempt status– or if you are an organization that qualifies for exemption under section 501(c)(3)– you are required to file an annual return under section 6033(a).

If your tax-exempt (or tax-exempt-eligible) organization has gross receipts of less than $50,000, however, you are not required to file an annual return, but you ARE required to give the IRS notice (using the e-Postcard Form 990-N ), providing certain information required by section 6033(i) of the Code.

Here’s the thing:  if  you are required to file a Form 990-series annual information return, or if you are required to submit the Form 990-N, you must do so even if your application for tax exemption has not been filed or not yet been approved.

If you’re working on your Form 1023-EZ during the time that an annual return is required, you must complete the return, check the “Application pending” box, and send in the return.  If all you’re required to file is the e-Postcard electronic notice, Form 990-N, while the Form 1023-EZ is pending, you should contact the IRS at 1-877-829-5500 and ask them to open an account for the organization so that you can file the necessary notice.

Check out Publication 557 at for information on annual information returns and electronic notice filing requirements.  Look for any exceptions to the filing requirements that might benefit your non-profit.   If you believe you meet an exception to filing, you can ask the IRS to officially recognize the exception.  To do that you will have to file Form 8940, Request for Miscellaneous Determination.  A user fee is required.

Are you dizzy yet?  The rules are complicated, but you CAN get it done.  If you need help with your existing or newly formed non-profit, contact me (  I’ll be more than happy to help.