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“O” No! The IRS Has A Few Questions For You

I can already hear some of your sarcasm…

“Tell me something I don’t know!”

“You’re kidding!  The IRS?  Really?”

Point taken.  It seems like the IRS always wants to know a thing or two about you.  Whether it is your personal tax situation, your business or your nonprofit organization, the Internal Revenue Service seems to always be there.  We’ve spent a great deal of time educating you about the seriousness of the 2008 changes to IRS Form 990 and what they mean to your nonprofit.  Well, the screws are getting tighter with the recent release of additional changes for the 2009 return.  Specifically, it is the changes to the Schedule O that have the potential to shake things up pretty dramatically.

What is Schedule O? The name of the schedule, Supplemental Information to Form 990, sounds harmless enough.  It was introduced in 2008 as part of the overhaul to Form 990 that added Schedules C – R to what had previously been just Schedules A & B.  The purpose of the schedule is to provide the IRS with…wait for it…supplemental information about the activities of nonprofit organizations that is not captured elsewhere on the return.  What is new for the 2009 tax year is that Schedule O is required of all Form 990 filers.  This is where the game begins to change…

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This Year’s Form 990 is a Very Big Deal

The filing deadline for the 2009 Form 990 is May 17, 2010 for 501(c)(3) and other tax-exempt organizations running on a calendar year basis.  There is nothing particularly new about that.  What IS new is that this year’s filing obligation has the potential to cause an enormous amount of heartache to those nonprofits that are unaware of the requirements and fail to do what is necessary.  We touched on this briefly in our last article, but we want to expand on it a little bit.  We implore all of our clients and friends to read this article carefully and be informed.

ALL tax-exempt organizations must file Form 990. With the distinct exception of churches, all 501(c) nonprofits are required to file a version of Form 990.  We’ve been saying this over and over, but we still find that the message is not quite getting through.  To make it easy to understand, ALL means ALL.  No exceptions!

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How Year-End Contribution Statements Can Raise Money

It’s one of those administrative tasks that must be done every year:  mailing your donors a year-end statement of their contributions.  Even if you are receipting on a per gift basis, a year-end itemized report is a best practice that should be adopted.  If you are already doing that, good for you!  But let me ask you this…

Is your year-end donation letter making money for you?

Have you noticed that some nonprofits are still doing fairly well in this economy, even thriving, while others have suffered dramatically?  What do they know that you don’t?  While there are many contributing factors that underlie success in fundraising, I submit that the most important element is effective communication.  One of the best places to communicate is in your receipting to donors.

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Strategic Thinking For Your Nonprofit’s Year-End

2009 is rapidly coming to a close.  And once again, we find ourselves amazed at how fast the year has gone by.  Funny how we have this conversation every year, but we act like it’s the first time it went by this fast.

Just as December 31 rolls around every year, so does the need to plan for your nonprofit’s year end.  With only a few weeks left in the year, don’t put off until later some of the most important things you need to be doing right now.  Let’s take a look at some key, year-end necessities.

Strategic planning. The economic uncertainty of the past year has forced many nonprofits to shift gears and even change course.  For some, it has caused an existential crisis!  What has the economic downturn meant to your organization?  The end of the year is a natural time to (re)evaluate what you are doing.  Focus on maximizing impact for a minimum of expense.  Easier said than done, no doubt.  But now more than ever, it is imperative to be intentional with everything you are doing.  “Winging it” is ineffective in the good times.  It could be fatal in the bad times.

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New Form 990 Problems Are Everywhere

If there is one constant in life, it’s change.  And most people don’t do “change” very well…even the IRS!  The new 2008 Form 990 is a complete, top-to-bottom overhaul of the form (as we’ve discussed in previous posts).  As we talk with more and more clients/prospects, we’re really starting to see some trends develop…most of them not good.

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Radical Changes to Form 990

For the first time since 1979, the IRS has completely overhauled the Form 990 – Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax.  And boy, is it a doozy!  This time, they weren’t fooling around.

“So what’s new?,” you ask.  Literally everything…from the filing requirement thresholds to the information they are seeking…it’s all different.

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