California Arts Council

State of California

Very Small Nonprofits: Should you be filing a 990-N?
If your 501(c)(3) organization's annual gross receipts are less than $25,000, an ePostcard to the IRS is required 

Published: 05-05-2011

If you're in charge of finances for nonprofit organizations that bring in less than $25,000 and don't think you need to talk to the IRS...please keep reading! The federal agency started requiring Form 990-N in 2008. But good news--the ePostcard notification is fairly easy, and you probably have until May 15 to file it.

While in the past the IRS didn't require 501(c)3 organizations that had less than $25,000 of gross receipts to file any paperwork, that is no longer true. Starting in 2008 for annual year 2007, all nonprofits have to file some kind of documentation with the IRS. 

The immediate consequences of noncompliance are limited, but repeat offenders could be jeopardizing their organizations. Nonprofits that do not file Form 990 (or the simplified versions of this form online called a 990-N or "ePostcard") for three consecutive years may lose their 501(c)3 status. The form needs to be filed on the 15th day of the 5th month after the end of the organization's fiscal year. That's May 15th in a regular January-through-December year -- the norm for most small organizations. 

From the IRS website:

Small tax-exempt organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less may be required to electronically submit Form 990-N, also known as the e-Postcard, unless they choose to file a complete Form 990 or Form 990-EZ.

If you do not file your e-Postcard on time, the IRS will send you a reminder notice, but you will not be assessed a penalty for late filing the e-Postcard. However, an organization that fails to file required e-Postcards (or information returns -- Forms 990 or 990-EZ) for three consecutive years will automatically lose its tax-exempt status. The revocation of the organization's tax-exempt status will not take place until the filing due date of the third year.

Links to forms may be found on the IRS informational website

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