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Form 990 Core Overview

Part I — Summary

This part provides an overview of the organization with reporting of the mission and activities, number of board members, employees and volunteers, and summary financial information. 

Part III — Statement of Program Service Accomplishments

This part is similar to the old version, but the IRS intends to add standardized reporting codes to classify the activities. These codes have not been released and will not be required for 2008.

Part IV — Checklist of Required Schedules

This section contains 37 questions designed to trigger potential reporting on the 16 Schedules.

Part V — Statements Regarding Other IRS Filings and Tax Compliance

This section is designed to both educate organizations as to additional filing requirements, as well as allow the IRS to efficiently assess the risk of noncompliance and other exposure areas. 

Part VI — Governance, Management, and Disclosure

The philosophy of the IRS is that good governance equals good tax compliance. This part of the core form includes questions relating to the organization’s governing body and management, the organization’s policies regarding conflicts of interest and determination of compensation, and disclosure of documents available for public inspection. 

Part VII — Compensation of Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors

 This section consolidates the reporting of compensation for these groups of persons related to the organization. The previous version of the Form 990 included the reporting of compensation of the five highest compensated employees and independent contractors on Schedule A, which was only required to be completed by IRC Section 501(c)(3) organizations. With the new Form 990, all tax exempt organizations will be required to report this information. The threshold for reporting compensation of the highest compensated employees and independent contractors was raised to $100,000. The compensation reporting is also based on calendar year amounts reported on Form W-2 or Form 1099 for these persons, regardless of the fiscal year of the organization. The reporting of compensation in the form of nontaxable fringe benefits and accrual of retirement plan benefits may be estimated.

Part VIII — Revenue Statement

This part contains detailed revenue reporting and categorizes the income as exempt function income, unrelated business income, or unrelated income exempt by statute. The exemption codes utilized in the previous Form 990 have been eliminated.

Part IX — Statement of Functional Expenses

This section is very similar to the previous Form 990; several lines have been revised to reflect the most frequently incurred expenses and provide more prominent reporting of professional fees and travel expenses for governmental officials. The reporting for payments to affiliates has also been moved to this section.

Part X — Balance Sheet

This part is also very similar to the previous Form 990. Supplemental information is reported using Schedule D. Detailed reporting of fixed assets is not required.

Part XI — Financial Statements and Reporting

Questions in this section include reporting of the organization’s accounting method, financial statement preparation and reporting, independent audit and audit committee, and Single Audit OMB Circular A-133 audit requirements.

In order to replace the various attachments required under the previous Form 990, the IRS developed a set of new schedules to enhance reporting of additional information. These are some of the highlights of the changes encompassed in some of these schedules:

Schedule A: Public Charity Status and Public Support — This schedule is completed only by IRC Section 501(c)(3) organizations and focuses exclusively on the nonprivate foundation status and public support calculation. Among the important changes, the public support test lookback period is now five years (instead of four) and is based on the same method of accounting as the Form 990 (instead of the cash method previously required). There is also increased reporting for IRC Section 509(a)(3) Supporting Organizations related to changes resulting from the Pension Protection Act of 2006.

Schedule C: Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities — This new schedule consolidates and enhances the reporting of these activities.

Schedule D: Supplemental Financial Statements — This schedule includes reporting of various topics, including donor advised funds, conservation easements, collections of art and historical treasures, trust or custodial arrangements, endowment funds. The schedule also includes more detailed reporting of items reported on the balance sheet, as well as the reconciliation of net assets and revenue and expenses. Included with the reporting of other liabilities is a question requiring reporting of the exact text of the footnote of the organization’s financial statements related to the organization’s liability for uncertain tax positions. The revised Form 990 does not require asset-by-asset reporting of investments that were proposed in the draft released in June.

Schedule F: Statement of Activities Outside the United States — Organizations with greater than $10,000 of revenue or expenses related to foreign activities will be required to complete Schedule F. This schedule requires reporting of general information related to the foreign activities and a listing of grants to foreign organizations and individuals. Due to security concerns for individuals in foreign locations, reporting activities by geographical region is acceptable and the IRS will not require reporting by country as proposed in the initial draft.

Schedule G: Supplemental Information Regarding Fundraising or Gaming Activities — Organizations with greater than $15,000 of professional fundraising fees or more than $15,000 revenue from fundraising or gaming events will be required to complete this Schedule. Because this is an area of IRS concern, this schedule requires more detailed reporting of fundraising methods, arrangements with professional fundraisers, revenue and expenses related to fundraising and gaming events, and compliance with state gaming laws.

Schedule H: Hospitals — Another area of concern for the IRS and Congress relates to increased transparency of hospital reporting of community benefit. This new schedule requires reporting of charity care policies, community benefit, bad debt expense and Medicare shortfalls, disclosure of management companies and joint ventures, listing of facilities, and billing practices. Because many hospitals expressed concern regarding the short timeline, only the listing of facilities is required for 2008, in order to allow hospitals adequate time to implement systems to track and report this information for 2009.

Schedule I: Grants and Other Assistance to Organizations, Governments and Individuals in the U.S. — This schedule is used to report the recipients of grants from the organization. The threshold for reporting grants is $5,000.

Schedule J: Compensation Information — Another area of focus for the IRS in recent years has been in the area of executive compensation. This schedule expands the reporting with questions related to executive perquisites and details of compensation packages. This schedule is required for reportable executive compensation greater than $150,000, or greater than $250,000, including nontaxable fringe benefits and expense accounts. This schedule is also required for compensation paid to a former officer or highly compensated employee greater than $100,000, or compensation paid to a former director or trustee greater than $10,000. Reporting of expenses paid under an accountable plan is not required as previously proposed in the first draft.

Schedule K: Supplemental Information on Tax Exempt Bonds — Organizations with tax exempt bonds issued after December 31, 2002 and with outstanding balances of more than $100,000 as of the last day of the tax year are required to complete this schedule to answer questions related to post-issuance bond compliance. Due to the increased burden related to this reporting, only a listing of the bonds in Part I is required to be completed for 2008.

Schedule L: Transactions with Interested Persons — This schedule provides for more prominent reporting of transactions between the organization and “insiders,” including officers, directors, and substantial contributors, including family or business relationships. Transactions include known excess benefit transactions, loans, grants, and other business transactions with interested persons.

Schedule M: Non-cash Contributions — This schedule requires a more detailed breakdown of various types of non-cash contributions, including types of contributions that are known areas of abuse: art, cars and other vehicles, conservation contributions, and taxidermy. There are also questions related to the organization’s policies and filing requirements with respect to such contributions.

Schedule N: Liquidation, Termination, Dissolution, or Significant Disposition of Assets — This schedule is required for organizations that liquidate or dissolve, and also for organizations that transfer more than 25 percent of their assets to another entity. The IRS is particularly interested in significant transfers of assets to for-profit entities or individuals.

Schedule O: Supplemental Information to Form 990 — This schedule is used to provide supporting information related to various questions throughout the return, as well as to allow organizations additional space to provide information they deem relevant to the return filing.

Schedule R: Related Organizations and Unrelated Partnerships — This schedule consolidates the reporting of various types of related entities including disregarded entities, related tax exempt organizations, controlled partnerships, trusts or corporations, and unrelated partnerships in which the organization conducted more than five percent of its activities (based on assets or revenue). The schedule also requires reporting of transactions between the organization and the controlled entities.

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