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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

The IRS warns, however, that nonprofits not on the list may also be in danger of losing their exemptions, particularly:

  • "Subordinates in group rulings for which the parent has not filed a required group return"
  • "Very small section 501(c)(3) public charities not required to file an application for exemption"
  • "Other section 501(c) organizations not required to file an application for exemption"

What to Do if You Believe the IRS's Records Are in Error

If your organization appears on the IRS list but you believe it is not at risk, you need to contact the IRS. How you contact the IRS depends on the nature of the alleged error:

  • If you believe your organization does not have a filing requirement: call Customer Account Services toll-free at 1-877-829-5500.
  • If you believe your organization's Form 990-N, 990, 990-EZ, or 999-PF filings are up to date: follow the instructions on the IRS Web site.

The Bottom Line

If you have any doubt about whether your organization could be at risk, contact the IRS at 1-877-829-5500. As IRS commissioner Doug Shulman said last month:

It's really important for small charities to pay attention to this announcement. These groups do great work in communities across the United States and are vital to the vibrancy of our nation. The last thing we want to do here at the IRS is have these groups lose their tax-exempt status because they haven't filed a short, simple form. So we urge these small groups to take a minute and make sure they've filed. It's a very easy, quick process to file, and we decided to extend the deadline to offer this relief to help these groups out. It's easier to file now than to lose their tax-exempt status and face going back and reapplying.

Our message is simple: If you don't have your filings up to date, now is the time to take action and get back in compliance. We're taking these steps today to go the extra mile and help small tax-exempt groups.

Read the entire statement

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

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