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IRS Updates, September 2008: Revised Instructions for the New Form 990 and More

The IRS has released revised instructions, background documents, and a summary of filing requirements for the new Form 990; guidance on political activities by 501(c)(3) organizations; information for sponsors of donor-advised funds seeking exemption under section 501(c)(3); and an update of the Tax Guide for Charities and Religious Organizations. The service is also requesting comments on the new Exempt Organizations Voluntary Compliance Program.

Revised Instructions, Background Documents, and Filing Requirements Summary for the New 990

Revised Instructions

On August 19, the IRS released all-but-final instructions for completing the new Form 990. The instructions incorporate changes made in response to comments from the public. Although the version currently posted on the IRS Web site is stamped "draft," the service does not expect to make substantive changes to the instructions. The final version will be released late this year.

Form 990 filers will be required to begin using the new return to report on fiscal years beginning on or after January 1, 2008.

Note: On September 9, GuideStar and Fiscal Management Associates, LLC will offer a Webinar to help nonprofits and practitioners prepare to file the new 990. Registration is $75. More information on the Webinar >

Background Documents

The IRS released the following background documents with the revised instructions:

Filing Requirements Summary

To ease the transition to the new 990, the IRS is phasing in the return's introduction over three years. For the 2008 tax year (i.e., fiscal year begins on or after January 1, 2008), filing requirements for most organizations are:

  • Form 990—organizations with gross receipts greater than or equal to $1 million AND/OR total assets greater than or equal to $2.5 million
  • Form 990-EZ—organizations with gross receipts of more than $25,000 but less than $1 million AND total assets of less than $2.5 million
  • Form 990-N—gross receipts normally less than or equal to $25,000
Sponsoring organizations of donor-advised funds and controlling organizations described in section 512(b)(13), however, must file Form 990 regardless of the amount of their gross receipts or assets. More information and 2009-2010 filing requirements >

Other Updates

Suzanne E. Coffman, September 2008
© 2008, Philanthropic Research, Inc. (GuideStar)

Suzanne Coffman is GuideStar's director of communications and editor of the Newsletter.
Topics: Law and Regulations