Who doesn’t have to file?

Approximately two-thirds of the organizations that are registered as tax-exempt don’t file a Form 990 with the IRS in any given year, according to NCCS. Congregations and some other religious organizations, as well as organizations with less than $25,000 in gross receipts, are in this category.

They do, however, need to file the brief form 990N electronic postcard. But this gives no details about the organization or its finances.

Here are all the exceptions – from the “Guide to Using NCCS Data“:

Unless a public charity falls under one of the filing exceptions below, it is required to file IRS Form 990.

1. A church, an interchurch organization of local units of a church, a convention or association of churches, an integrated church (such as a men’s or women’s organization, religious school, mission society, or youth group).

2. Church-affiliated organizations that are exclusively engaged in managing funds or maintaining retirement programs.

3. A school below college level affiliated with a church or operated by a religious order.

4. A mission society sponsored by, or affiliated with, one or more churches or church denominations, if more than half of activities are conducted in, or directed at persons in foreign countries.

5. An exclusively religious activity of any religious order.

6. A state institution whose income is excluded from gross income.

7. An organization that is described as an instrument of the United States and is exempt from federal income taxes.

8. A private foundation exempt under section 501(c)(3) and described in section 509(a)- Use Form 990-PF (described below).

9. A black lung benefit trust described in section 501(c)(21).

10. A stock bonus, pension, or profit-sharing trust that qualifies under section 401.

11. A religious or apostolic organization described in section 501(d).

12. A foreign organization whose annual gross receipts from sources within the U.S. are normally $25,000 or less.

13. A governmental unit or affiliate of a governmental unit.

14. A political organization that is

a. A state or local committee of a political party;

b. A political committee of a state or local candidate;

c. A caucus or association of state or local officials;

d. An authorized committee of a candidate for federal office;

e. A national committee of a political party;

f. A United States House of Representatives or United States Senate campaign committee of a political party committee;

g. Required to report under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 as a political committee; or

h. An organization described under section 6033(g)(3)(G)

15. An organization whose annual gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less.


  1. CarolynC says:

    Good resource. I love this one: “black lung benefit trust”

    Talk about specific!

  2. Babiche says:

    anon-your argument doesn’t make a great deal of sense. it doesn’t matetr if we discuss AGI or GI. what matetrs is what percentage of tax collected comes from the top 1% or 10% or whatever. we know the amount of tax dollars collected and from how many people. what the income was is not really relevant in terms of laying out who is paying for the US government.you can make a case that the percentages of income tax are not as bad as they look due to deductions, but that has little relevance to who is doing the paying, it’s just a measure of burden. with 50% of Americans essentially paying no net income tax, is it any surprise that we are seeing more and more big government spending supported? why not vote for benefits you get that you know you will never pay for.worth considering is this:the top 1% of taxpayers pay 40% of taxes. wealth has never been more mobile than it is now. squeeze this group too hard, and they will leave. if 10% of them leave/stop being economically active, that’s a 4% structural deficit.the US needs to find ways to attract and retain the wealthy, ambitious, and successful. we’ve done a great job of it for a long time. the best and brightest came here because it was the best place in the world to get rich.we are in real danger of losing that. we are certainly no longer the best place to BE rich. being rich in the EU will result in much lower taxes for you if you have the sense to keep your investments offshore. the US is a massive tax haven for wealthy Europeans, but our own citizens are taxed on global income. like it or no, we’re going to have to face up to the fact that people and wealth are going to be much more mobile and nations will compete for them just as firms compete for top talent. wishing it weren’t so will not make the headhunters stop calling.i’ve been looking into this a bit, and you’d be astounded at the number of great deals you can get on citizenship (and tax treatment) if you are willing to make direct investments in local businesses.

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