This memorandum describes the annual information return filing requirements for religious organizations and other tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations (excluding private foundations and supporting organizations).
I. Annual Information Return Filing Requirements
Most religious organizations and other tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations are required to file annual information returns. The kinds of religious organizations not required to file include churches, integrated auxiliaries of churches, conventions or associations of churches, religious orders, and mission societies.
If an organization is required to file an annual information return, then it must file one of Form 990, Form 990-EZ (short form), or Form 990-N (e-Postcard). The organization’s revenue determines which version of Form 990 it must file. In general terms, an organization is required to file the full Form 990 unless it qualifies as small or very small. A small organization is permitted to file Form 990-EZ instead of the full Form 990 if, at the end of its taxable year, it had less than $200,000 in gross receipts and less than $500,000 in total assets. A very small organization is permitted file Form 990-N instead of Form 990 or Form 990-EZ if (i) it is less than one year old and total revenue during its first taxable year (including pledges) was $75,000 or less; (ii) it is more than one but less than two years old and total revenue during its first and second taxable years averaged $60,000 or less; or (iii) it is more than two years old and total revenue during the current year and the two preceding years averaged $50,000 or less.
II. Filing Due Date
The appropriate annual information return is due on or before the 15th day of the fifth month after the end of the organization’s taxable year. For example, if an organization is on a calendar year, then its annual information return is due May 15 (although three-month extensions are available).
III. Filing Form 990-N
Form 990-N may be submitted in approximately 15 minutes at http://epostcard.form990.org (this website is operated by the Urban Institute in cooperation with the IRS). It is very important to print the acceptance page for the organization’s records.
IV. Penalties for Failure to File
An organization that does not timely file an annual information return may be subject to financial penalties. In addition, if an organization fails to file for three consecutive years, then its exempt status will be automatically revoked. For example, if a calendar-year organization fails to file for years 2012, 2013, and 2014, then its exempt status will be automatically revoked as of May 15, 2015 (the day its return for the third consecutive year was due).
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