Instructions for Form 990 
Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax - Introductory Material

Future Developments

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What's New

2013 Significant Changes

The General Instructions:

  • Clarify that a short period return cannot be filed electronically unless it is an initial or final return for which the “Initial return” or “Terminated” box is checked in Item B of the Form 990 Heading.

  • Explain that if a Form 990-N filer changes its accounting period, it must report this change either on Form 990/990-EZ or Form 1128, or by sending a letter to the IRS.

  • Clarify that organizations that change their accounting period must report any adjustment required by section 481(a) in Parts VIII through XI of Form 990 and in Schedule D (Form 990), Parts XI and XII, as applicable.

Instructions for Heading. Items A-M:

  • Clarify what documentation must be attached to Form 990 to support an organization’s name change.

  • Clarify what documentation must be attached to Form 990 by an organization that has terminated, dissolved, merged, or had its exemption revoked by the IRS.

In Part IV, Checklist of Required Schedules:

  • Line 2 instructions clarify when an organization can exclude from Schedule B contributors that fall below the greater-than-$5,000/2% threshold.

  • Line 25b instructions clarify when an organization needs to answer “Yes” to report that it became aware of an excess benefit transaction with a disqualified person in a prior year.

  • Line 26 is revised to clarify that the organization must file Schedule L, Part II, if it reported any amounts on Part X, line 5, 6, or 22 for receivables from or payables to interested persons.

In Part VI, Governance, Management, and Disclosure:

  • Line 3 instructions clarify what compensation from a management company to interested persons should be reported in Schedule O.

Instructions for Part VII, Compensation of Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors:

  • Clarify that directors’ compensation for non-director independent contractor services to the organization and related organizations must be reported in Part VII, Section A.

  • Clarify that compensation from a management company to one of the organization’s officers, directors, trustees, key employees, or highest compensated employees is generally not reportable in Part VII, Section A.

In Part VIII, Statement of Revenue:

  • Line 1 instructions clarify that discounts on services cannot be reported as contributions.

  • Line 10b instructions clarify how to report the cost of donated goods on this line.

In Part IX, Statement of Functional Expenses:

  • Line 11 instructions clarify how to report expense payments and reimbursements to contractors.

The Glossary:

  • Clarifies that “contributions” include neither donations of services nor discounts provided on sales of goods in the ordinary course of business.

  • Includes a new definition of “domestic individual.

  • Clarifies when a VEBA is reported as a “related organization” by its contributing employers and sponsoring organizations.

Appendix D, Public Inspection of Returns:

  • Clarifies that public inspection requirements apply to both original and amended returns.

Appendix E, Group Returns:

  • Clarifies how to determine, for purposes of group returns, whether a diversion of a subordinate’s assets meets the 5%/$250,000 reporting threshold for Part VI, line 5.

  • Clarifies when to report business transactions of subordinates and their interested persons in Schedule L, Part IV.

Appendix F, Disregarded Entities and Joint Ventures–Inclusion of Activities and Items:

  • Clarifies when to treat a single-member LLC as a disregarded entity of its sole member/owner.

Purpose of Form

Forms 990 and 990-EZ are used by tax-exempt organizations, nonexempt charitable trusts, and section 527 political organizations to provide the IRS with the information required by section 6033.

An organization's completed Form 990 or 990-EZ, and a section 501(c)(3) organization's Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, generally are available for public inspection as required by section 6104. Schedule B (Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF), Schedule of Contributors, is available for public inspection for section 527 organizations filing Form 990 or 990-EZ. For other organizations that file Form 990 or Form 990-EZ, parts of Schedule B (Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF), can be open to public inspection. See Appendix D and the Instructions for Schedule B (Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF) for more details.

Some members of the public rely on Form 990 or Form 990-EZ as their primary or sole source of information about a particular organization. How the public perceives an organization in such cases can be determined by information presented on its return.

Phone Help

If you have questions and/or need help completing Form 990, please call 1-877-829-5500. This toll-free telephone service is available Monday through Friday.

Email Subscription

The IRS has established a subscription-based email service for tax professionals and representatives of tax-exempt organizations. Subscribers will receive periodic updates from the IRS regarding exempt organization tax law and regulations, available services, and other information. To subscribe, visit

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