For many people, April 15 sticks out as the most important tax-related deadline. However, those who manage a non-profit organization might have another critical date in mind: May 15.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, non-profit organizations must file Form 990 paperwork by the 15th day of the fifth month of their fiscal year. In other words, organizations that align their fiscal year with the calendar year must provide information to the IRS by May 15 of every year.
The law requires non-profits to disclose their annual reports for the last three years, which includes donor records. In addition to reminding non-profit organizations to remove important donor-related data (such as Social Security numbers), the IRS also notes that failure to meet the disclosure deadline could cause tax-exempt status revocation.
Of course, many non-profit organizations wouldn't be able to remain in operation without a tax break. Keeping this in mind, it's important to meet this filing deadline or swiftly address any tax disputes that arise.
There are certain circumstances that might prevent an organization from filing on time. Rather than worrying about an abrupt change in tax-exempt status, non-profits can seek an extension. This is similar to what individual filers can do with a tax return that's expected to be delayed.
The unfortunate reality is that Form 990-series information provided by a non-profit organization could be challenged by the IRS. With a focus on providing service or addressing a particular societal problem, non-profit organizations might simply not have the internal resources to handle a tax-exempt status challenge. Regardless, the IRS will be prepared to defend their position, so it may be best for non-profit managers seek appropriate assistance and do the same.
Source: The Intenral Revenue Service, "IRS reminder for local nonprofits..." April 30, 2014