E-file for Charities and Non-Profits

 

Electronic filing provides fast acknowledgement that the IRS has received the return and reduces normal processing time, making compliance with reporting and disclosure requirements easier. Charities and nonprofits can file the following forms electronically through an IRS Authorized e-File Provider.

  • Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax
  • Form 990-EZ, Short Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax
  • Form 990-PF, Return of Private Foundation
  • Form 990-N (e-Postcard)
  • Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (and proxy tax under section 6033(e)
  • Form 1120-POL, U.S. Income Tax Return of Political Organizations
  • Form 4720, Return of Certain Excise Taxes Under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns (extension form for Form 1120-POL)
  • Form 8868, Application for Extension of Time To File an Exempt Organization Return

Form 990-N (e-Postcard) - Annual electronic filing requirement for small tax-exempt organizations

Small tax-exempt organizations (those normally with annual gross receipts up to $50,000 may be required to file an annual electronic notice, Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations not Required To File Form 990 or 990-EZ. This filing requirement applies to tax periods beginning after December 31, 2006, and may apply to organizations that previously were not required to file returns.

See e-Postcard (Form 990-N) for more information about this requirement and a link to the filing system.

Required e-filing of Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, 990-T, and 4720 for tax years beginning after July 1, 2019

The Taxpayer First Act, enacted July 1, 2019, requires tax-exempt organizations to electronically file information returns and related forms. The new law affects tax-exempt organizations in tax years beginning after July 1, 2019. The waiver process described below and in Notice 2010-13 does not apply to Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, 990-T, and for private foundations only, Form 4720.

Transition of Form 990-EZ

For small exempt organizations, the legislation specifically allowed a postponement ("transitional relief"). For tax years ending before July 31, 2021, the IRS will accept either paper or electronic filing of Form 990-EZ, Short Form Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax. For tax years ending July 31, 2021, and later, Forms 990-EZ must be filed electronically.

Forms 990 & 990-PF

Forms 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, and 990-PF, Return of Private Foundation or Section 4947(a)(1) Trust Treated as Private Foundation, for tax years ending July 31, 2020 and later MUST be filed electronically.

Form 990-T

Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, for tax years ending December 2020 and later with a due date on or after April 15, 2021, MUST be filed electronically and not on paper. A limited exception applies for 2020 Form 990-T returns submitted on paper that bear a postmark date on or before March 15, 2021.

Form 4720

Notice 2021-01 provides that as a result of this electronic filing mandate, each taxpayer filing Form 4720, Return of Certain Excise Taxes Under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code must file his or her own return. Taxpayers such as disqualified persons and foundation managers can no longer rely on Treas. Reg. § 53.6011-1(c) to report and pay an excise tax reported on Form 4720 on the private foundation’s return. For tax years ending December 2020 and later with a due date on or after July 15, 2021, a private foundation filing Form 4720 must file the return electronically and not on paper. A limited exception applies for 2020 Form 4720 returns submitted on paper that bear a postmark date on or before June 15, 2021. Taxpayers other than private foundations should refer to the Instructions for Form 4720 for additional information about other electronic filing requirements that may apply.  

Required e-filing of Forms 990 and 990-PF for certain large tax-exempt organizations for tax years beginning before July 1, 2019

Exempt organizations with $10 million or more in total assets may be required to e-file if the organization files at least 250 returns in a calendar year, including income, excise, employment tax and information returns. (See the example below.) Private foundations and non-exempt charitable trusts are required to file Forms 990-PF electronically regardless of their asset size, if they file at least 250 returns annually. The electronic filing requirement does not apply to Form 8868.

Example of an organization meeting the electronic filing requirement for Form 990 and 990-PF for tax years beginning before July 1, 2019

If a tax-exempt organization having $10 million in total assets has 245 employees, it must file Form 990 electronically because each Form W-2 and quarterly Form 941 is considered a separate return. Therefore, the organization in this example would file a total of 250 returns (245 W-2's, four 941's, and one 990).

Large tax-exempt organizations that prepare their own returns can be authorized by the IRS as "Large Taxpayers" to file their own return electronically, or use a tax professional who is an IRS Authorized e-File Provider. Publication 4163, Modernized e-File (MeF) Information for Authorized IRS e-File Providers for Business Returns PDF, contains an addendum section for the Large Taxpayer filing its own return.  The addendum contains important information and includes step-by-step instructions on how to complete the necessary registration and IRS e-file application.

Requesting a waiver from required e-filing for Forms 990 and 990-PF for tax years beginning before July 1, 2019

Notice 2010-13 establishes criteria under which tax-exempt organizations can request waivers from the electronic filing requirement:

  • Where the exempt-organization cannot meet electronic filing requirements due to technology constraints; or
  • Where compliance with the requirements would result in undue financial burden on the filer.

Electronic filing through the Modernized e-File (MeF) system also supports a Fed/State program that consists of a single point of submission and retrieval for all registered transmitters and State agencies. This Fed/State initiative includes Corporations, Partnerships and Exempt Organizations. Additional MeF information can be found in Publication 4163 PDF and Publication 4164 PDF.

DVD images of electronically filed returns

The IRS provides electronic copies (images) of Forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-PF to the public on DVD.  Filing schemas, publications, and user guides for software developers and transmitters and others interested in technical details are also available.

Information for tax professionals

Tax professionals who plan to file Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, 990-T,1120-POL or 4720 electronically must submit a new or revised electronic IRS e-file application using the electronic e-Services application. This is a one-time registration process and you must apply at least 45 days before you plan to file electronically.

Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS)

Pay all of your taxes electronically using EFTPS. Once you are enrolled, you can pay all types of taxes year-round. EFTPS is a free electronic payment option available to pay all federal taxes electronically. Log on to EFTPS or call 800-555-4477.

Additional Resources

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The following toll-free numbers are provided for Charities and Nonprofits having account, tax law, or technical questions.