By Napa Legal Staff
Bottom Line: Most organizations must file the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) Form 990 or request an extension by May 15. Many organizations also have state tax filings, charitable registration forms, corporate annual reports, or some combination of these due on the same date.
IRS Form 990
If your organization is tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code §501(c)(3), you are likely required to file the IRS Form 990 every year. The IRS Form 990 is an annual information return that the IRS uses to oversee whether an exempt organization is continuing to fulfill its commitment to be both organized and operated for exempt purposes. The form captures both financial information and details about the organization’s governance and activities.
If you are not sure whether your organization is required to file the IRS Form 990, you can find this information in the header of the organization’s determination letter, which is available on the IRS website.
The IRS Form 990 is filed online and is available in three versions:
- IRS Form 990 N e-Postcard (gross receipts less than $50,000);
- IRS Form 990 EZ (gross receipts of less than $200,000 and total assets less than $500,000); and
- IRS Form 990. (gross receipts of $200,000 or more or total assets of $500,000 or more. 
Regardless of revenue level, for organizations with a December 31 fiscal year end, the deadline to file this form is May 15.
Tax-exempt organizations typically are formed as nonprofit corporations under state law and, as nonprofit corporations, have additional reporting requirements.
For example, a state usually requires organizations formed or operating in the state to file one or more of the following: a tax return or report (usually handled by the state department of revenue), a nonprofit corporation annual report (usually handled by the secretary of state), and a charitable registration report or renewal (usually handled by the state attorney general).
Deadlines for each of these filings vary. In some cases, the deadline is a function of the organization’s fiscal year or year of formation. In other cases, the state has a uniform deadline for all organizations. For convenience, many states share the May 15 filing deadline with the IRS Form 990.
How to Prepare
Make sure you know your organization’s filing obligations and prepare your filings or extension requests on time. For a step-by-step tutorial on the IRS Form 990, see this masterclass-style video from the IRS.
To determine your state filing obligations, review the state profile for any states in which your organization operates. Napa Legal All Access includes state profiles featuring details about registration and reporting requirements in each jurisdiction.
To learn more about compliance best practices, see Napa Legal’s blog post on developing a compliance calendar.
 Note: If your organization is a private foundation, the appropriate form will be the IRS Form 990 PF.
[Correction, April 11, 2022: Due to a typographical error, a prior version of this article indicated eligibility requirements for filing the IRS Form 990 EZ include receiving gross receipts of more than $200,000. The correct eligibility threshold is less than $200,000.]
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