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Ministries: It’s Time to File Your Annual Form 990

By Laura Archambault

April 18th is behind us, and you’ve (hopefully) finished filing your taxes.

Now, May 16th* is approaching, and it’s time to file your ministry’s information return.

(record scratch)—What’s an information return? Since 501(c)(3)-approved organizations don’t pay taxes, you don’t file taxes; you file information. Each year, you will file information using Form 990 to prove you’re continually complying with nonprofit requirements to remain tax-exempt.

Form 990 requires explicitly financial information to help the IRS determine whether nonprofits are:

  • Continually meeting financial support requirements,
  • Not operating for the private benefits of individuals within the organization; and
  • Remaining organized for charitable purposes that allow them to maintain their tax-exempt status

Who Needs to File Form 990?

Churches do not have to file Form 990, but other ministries do! “Most organizations” who are exempt from income tax must file. This includes organizations that have not applied for 501(c)(3) status (though you totally should).

There are several exceptions. These organizations DO NOT have to file Form 990**

  • Churches
  • Religious schools (non-collegiate)
  • Missions organizations
  • Certain government/political organizations

**See Form 990 Instructions, Section B for details

Which Form Does My Ministry Need?

There are several variations of Form 990 annual informational return.

  • 990-N (the e-Postcard): A 990-N is an electronic notice. Organizations with gross receipts of normally $50,000 or less will file this electronic notice.
  • Form 990-EZ: Form 990-EZ is also referred to as the short form. Organizations with gross receipts of usually more than $50,000 but less than $200,000 and assets valued at less than $500,000 are required to file this form.
  • Form 990: Form 990 is also known as the long-form. Organizations with gross receipts are on average $200,000 or greater, and with assets valued at $500,000 or, greater are required to file Form 990.
  • Form 990-PF: All private foundations are required to file Form 990-PF.
  • Form 990-T: All nonprofits, including churches, must file a 990-T if they have $1,000 or more unrelated business income, income from conducting an activity unrelated to their tax-exempt purpose. This also applies to churches that provide health insurance to their employees and qualify for the small business healthcare tax credit. The majority of churches providing health insurance for their employees will most likely qualify for this tax credit. They can receive up to a 50% refund on all health insurance premiums that they pay.

Wondering what your gross receipts are? Ensure you have strong bookkeeping or rely on our expert bookkeepers to stay informed about your ministry’s finances.


When is Form 990 Due?

*All 990 filers must submit their returns by the 15th day of the 5th month of their fiscal year. For instance, if your fiscal year coincides with the calendar year ending on December 31st, you must file Form 990 by May 15th of the following year. May 15th is a Sunday this year, so you must file by Monday, May 16th, 2022.

However, if your fiscal year ends on June 30th, you must file Form 990 by November 15th of the same year.

Ok, So Form 990 Is All I Need?

Not exactly. Form 990 is a federal form, but your state may have additional requirements on an annual or biennial basis.

What If I Don’t File Form 990?

If you forget to file, your ministry can face hefty fines- $20 a day, up to $10,500.

Your tax-exempt status will be automatically revoked if you forget for three consecutive years. With dire consequences, you must meet filing requirements.

The Good News

You have a powerful ally in StartCHURCH.

We believe your time should be spent in ministry, not reading tax code fine print. We want to see your money spent for God, not paying late fees for missing deadlines.

If you are worried about forgetting to file your 990 or find the form too complicated, take advantage of our Form 990 Service. Customers rave about the peace of mind when a StartCHURCH Specialist lifts the burden of paperwork.

If you have already missed a deadline and perhaps already had your tax-exempt status revoked, take a deep breath. No, really. I want you to take a deep breath.

We can help you get back on track. We’ve helped tens of thousands of churches and ministries walk through countless situations. So give us a call today, repair your foundation, and return to ministry. After all, God has called you, so don’t let a setback stand in your way.


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