IRS Form 990 Filing Tips – Part One

helpful tips

The IRS recently released the first in a series of filing tips for tax-exempt organizations and tax practitioners as they prepare to file the redesigned 2008 Form 990.

  • Determine whether you are eligible to file the Form 990-EZ for 2008
  • Review the redesigned 2008 Form 990
  • Review the instructions for the redesigned 2008 Form 990
  • Identify the schedules you need to complete
  • Identify the key internal stakeholders to involve to complete the Form, including finance, program leaders, fundraisers, PR/government relations, and HR
  • Assign an internal leader to coordinate 990 preparation
  • Identify your related organizations and TDOKEs (Trustees, directors, officers, and key employees)
  • Be prepared to answer new questions about governance, executive compensation, and insider transactions
  • Determine your overseas and joint venture activities
  • Establish or modify internal systems to prepare for filing season

Tip from exempt organizations attorney and 990 guru Eve Borenstein:  Consider filing Form 990 even if you qualify to file Form 990-EZ this year, particularly if it is likely you will be required to file Form 990 next year (note that the filing thresholds will be lower).  All filers of the standard Form 990 will be doing so for the first time this year; so, mistakes are very likely to be widespread.  In following years, first-time filers that make mistakes will stand out more as experienced filers advance on their learning curves.  Moreover, by working through the Form 990 this year, you’ll learn about the governance policies the IRS “encourages” you to adopt.  This will allow you to consider having such policies adopted and in place in 2009 for next year’s filing.

For a good introduction to the redesigned Form 990, check out this 14-minute mini-course on the redesigned Form 990 produced by the IRS Exempt Organizations office.