Posts

New IRS Search Engine for Eligible Charities

A client board member recently asked why their nonprofit could not be found in Publication 78. Publication 78 was the official listing of charities eligible to receive contributions, and it started out as a hard copy document that made its way to PDF, but times have changed and IRS is now maintaining its entire database electronically.
The Revenue Procedure that announced the new databases confirms what purposes they can be used for.
The new IRS tool called Tax-Exempt Organization Search or TEOS is the next generation of IRS Exempt Organization Select Check, and in addition to checking on the organization’s exempt status, you will be able to look at images of forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, and 990-T starting with the 990 forms filed in 2018.
IRS favorable determination letters will start to become available on this site. Eventually determination letters issued since January 2014 will be available.
IRS claims that the new search tool is easier to use, is more user-friendly, and easier to search on smart phones and tablets.
Like the predecessor tool, you will also be able to look at organizations that have had their exempt status revoked for failure to file, and look for organizations that have filed form 990N.

Nonprofits Check Your Website … IRS Will

It wasn’t that many years ago that IRS seemed confused about what to do about nonprofit websites. Could links to for-profits be Unrelated Business Income? Can charities lobby or carry on political activity with links or messages on their website?
Now IRS considers your website and your social media postings a tool to check your activity and your compliance.

They will check these if your organization has been selected for audit. They will also check these for organizations that are applying for exempt status, or for a change in their status.
It’s very likely they will look at these if they are considering an audit of your organization based on inconsistencies identified in your form 990, or based on referrals from other agencies or from individuals.
The message is clear. Be sure your website and social media is up to date and properly describes your activities, and that those activities are consistent with your mission. Also be careful of any links or endorsements that might indicate Unrelated Business Income, political or lobbying activity.
It wasn’t that many years ago that IRS seemed confused about what to do about nonprofit websites. Could links to for-profits be Unrelated Business Income? Can charities lobby or carry on political activity with links or messages on their website?
Now IRS considers your website and your social media postings a tool to check your activity and your compliance.​
They will check these if your organization has been selected for audit. They will also check these for organizations that are applying for exempt status, or for a change in their status.
It’s very likely they will look at these if they are considering an audit of your organization based on inconsistencies identified in your form 990, or based on referrals from other agencies or from individuals.
The message is clear. Be sure your website and social media is up to date and properly describes your activities, and that those activities are consistent with your mission. Also be careful of any links or endorsements that might indicate Unrelated Business Income, political or lobbying activity.

The Other Public Support Test – the 10% Facts and Circumstances Test

This test is all about whether a charity is or is not publicly supported. Charities that do not meet a specific exception (like churches and schools) must have broad public support, which is based on mathematical tests.
Success in attracting large donors or developing a substantial fund to sustain the organization may create a situation where the organization is unable to meet the public support tests. The result of this is that the organization will be reclassified as a private foundation. Assuming they carry on a program they will be classified as a private operating foundation.
The impact of a change to private operating foundation status includes some excise taxes, which are generally modest, but also a risk of the loss of some funding. Private foundations cannot contribute to other private foundations, and many grantmakers have policies against supporting private foundations, even if they are private operating foundations.
The most common public support tests use the current year and prior four years’ averages to determine whether you meet the mathematical tests to be publicly supported by contributions, or by a combination of contributions and related activities. Organizations that fail those mathematical tests can use the 10% facts and circumstances test. This only requires that the organization “normally“ have at least 10% broad public support, but they must also have an ongoing program to attract public or governmental support. Additionally their governing board must represent the
public interest rather than personal or private interests, and their programs must be designed for the benefit of the general public.
When this method is used to demonstrate public support, IRS will also look at whether the organization has a well-defined program for accomplishing its charitable work and at whether members of the public having special knowledge or expertise, public officials, or community leaders participate in or sponsor any of the organization’s programs.
Monitor your public support percentage by reviewing your form 990, Schedule A each year. Look at the public support percentage for the current year and for the prior year noting the trend.
Contact us if you would like more detailed information on all of the public support tests including the 10% facts and circumstances test.