The Sad Demise of ShoreBank


Want to Help Disaster Relief Efforts? Make Your Gift Unrestricted

As CNN and other news outlets are reporting, monsoon rains have flooded large areas of Pakistan, forcing millions to flee their homes and seek humanitarian aid for such basic necessities as shelter, food, potable water, and medical care. And, as BusinessWeek pointed out, Americans are joining in force to provide assistance to the victims of this cruel tragedy.

How to Find Out if Your Nonprofit Is in Danger of Losing Tax-Exempt Status

In response to our article earlier this month on filing relief for smaller nonprofits facing automatic revocation of tax-exempt status, a number of people asked us if there is a list of the nonprofits at risk. The answer is yes; the list can be found on the IRS Web site. View the list

IRS Updates, August 2010: IRS Workshops, Tax Forums, and Charitable Giving and Gaming Publications

The IRS is once again offering its workshops for small and mid-size 501(c)(3)s; invites exempt organizations to attend nationwide tax forums; and has published updates of its publications on (1) documentation and disclosure related to charitable contributions and (2) tax-exempt organizations and gaming.

New Survey Gives Credence to the “New Normal”


The Gang of 40: How More Important Than Who


What do you think of the efforts of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to urge their fellow billionaires to donate more to charity? So far, about 40 billionaires have responded positively, and I’ve seen one estimate that the amount pledged so far is approximately $600 billion.

Riding Across the Heartland


RAGBRAI, Days 5 and 6


RAGBRAI, Days 3 and 4


GuideStar Health Giveaway Winner

In June, we invited health and medical research organizations that had at least 10 user reviews to enter the GuideStar Health Giveaway. The organization that received the most reviews during the month of June would receive $5,000 from GuideStar.

Many entered, but only one could be chosen. That organization was MAPS, with 604 reviews, nearly double the amount received by the runner-up. You can see the 10 organizations that had the most reviews on the bottom left of our home page.

We'll be doing other giveaways in the coming months. Watch our Web site, the GuideStar Newsletter, and your e-mail in-box for news about upcoming giveaways.

More Information on Nonprofit Reviews

How nonprofits can benefit from and promote stakeholder reviews

Tips for writing reviews


Suzanne E. Coffman, August 2010
© 2010, GuideStar Usa, Inc.

Suzanne Coffman is GuideStar's editorial director and editor of the GuideStar Newsletter.

IRS Releases Guidance for Small Nonprofits at Risk of Losing Tax-Exempt Status

On July 26, 2010, the IRS released guidance on filing relief for Form 990-N and 990-EZ filers in danger of losing their tax exemptions because they have not filed for three consecutive years. This one-time relief is available to small organizations whose filing deadlines fall on or after May 17, 2010, and before October 15, 2010. All returns filed under this program are due no later than October 15, 2010.

Relief is not available to Form 990 and 990-PF filers. The guidance states, "This one-time relief benefits Form 990-N (e-Postcard) and Form 990-EZ filers only. Organizations required to file Form 990 or Form 990-PF are not eligible and are automatically revoked if they fail to file for three consecutive years."

Read the statement


The Pension Protection Act of 2006 requires the IRS to revoke the tax exemption of any nonprofit required to file an annual information return (Form 990-N, 990-EZ, 990, or 990-PF) that has not done so for three consecutive years. Although the requirement applies to organizations of any size whose filings are at least three years in arrears, many of the smallest nonprofits have never been required to file before and may not be aware of the need to do so now.

The first deadline to trigger revocations occurred May 17, 2010. On May 18, when it became clear that many small nonprofits had missed the deadline, IRS commissioner Doug Shulman stated, "I want to reassure these small organizations that the IRS will do what it can to help them avoid losing their tax-exempt status." He promised that the IRS would issue guidance on what the nonprofits would need to do to retain their exemptions. That guidance was issued July 26.

For more background and quick links to information related to the revocations, see our LINKnonprofit resource center. We have also published a report, "Automatic Revocation of Nonprofits' Tax-Exempt Status: What Nonprofits, Grantmakers, and Donors Need to Know," on the issue. Written by Linda M. Lampkin of ERI Economic Research Institute, the report is a one-stop reference guide that includes the July 26 IRS guidance.

Download a free copy of the report

What the Guidance Says

The guidance contains separate instructions for Form 990-N and Form 990-EZ filers. Nonprofits with gross receipts of $25,000 or less during tax years beginning in 2007, 2008, and 2009, qualify to file Form 990-N. The filing thresholds for 990-EZ filers, however, differ for these three tax years. See the IRS list of filing thresholds

Remember that filing relief is available only to 990-N and 990-EZ filers whose filing deadlines fall on or after May 15, 2010, and on or before October 15, 2010, and that returns filed under this program must be submitted no later than October 15, 2010.

Form 990-N Filers

Organizations that qualify to file Form 990-N (also known as the ePostcard) can file either Form 990-N, which must be completed and submitted electronically, or a paper Form 990-EZ. Those that opt to file an EZ should note, "Filed in lieu of Form 990-N," at the top of the form and on the envelope. Mail the return to:

Internal Revenue Service
M/S 1114
P.O. Box 12610
Ogden, UT 84412

Read the instructions for Form 990-N filers

Form 990-EZ Filers

The IRS is offering a Voluntary Compliance Program for 990-EZ filers that have failed to file for three consecutive years. To participate in this program, organizations must:

  • qualify to file Form 990-EZ for each of the tax years beginning in 2007, 2008, and 2009;
  • sign the Voluntary Compliance Program checklist;
  • file EZs for all three years;
  • write, "Filing Relief VCP," on each return and the envelope;
  • pay a compliance fee of $100, $200, or $500, determined by the amount of their gross revenues in 2009;
  • and mail the returns, checklist, and compliance fee in a single envelope to:

    Internal Revenue Service
    M/S 1114
    P.O. Box 12610
    Ogden, UT 84412

Read the instructions (including compliance fee information) for Form 990-EZ filers


In the words of Bob Ottenhoff, GuideStar's president and CEO, "The IRS's one-time filing relief program for small exempt organizations is a wonderful opportunity for these organizations to come back into compliance." We hope all organizations that are at risk and qualify for this program will take advantage of it.


Related Article

How to Find Out if Your Nonprofit Is in Danger of Losing Tax-Exempt Status


Suzanne E. Coffman, August 2010
© 2010, GuideStar USA, Inc.

Suzanne Coffman is GuideStar's editorial director and editor of the Newsletter.

How to Engage 20-Somethings in Your Cause

Finding new volunteers and donors is one of the biggest challenges facing nonprofit organizations. For the past few years, more and more nonprofits have used social media to get people to embrace their causes, but getting the "social-media generation" behind your cause and then inspiring them to contribute in time and resources is another matter.

Make 2010 the Year YOU Start Planned Giving, Part IV

Hello there!

RAGBRAI, Days 1 and 2


Shedding Light on Changes in the Sector