Monday, May 10, 2010

Resources for Donors and What Information Federal Law Says A Nonprofit Must Provide to the Public

Exempt organizations officially recognized by the I.R.S. as such, must allow people who request them to see the organization's tax return forms 990 or 990-T or the nonprofit's tax exemption application materials (i.e. anything that the nonprofit provided to the I.R.S., along with it's application for nonprofit status (form 1023) such as the organization's articles of incorporation, etc.).  Read the these two I.R.S. brochures explaining what a nonprofit must provide to someone who requests it, when, and what the repercussions are for organizations that fail to do so at I.R.S. Bulletin 1999-17 and I.R.S. EO CPE Text (update and summary of these laws).  The I.R.S. can also provide a certain amount of information for each tax exempt organization as well.  To see the break down between what the organization must provide and what the I.R.S. must provide, see Form 990 Resources and Tools for the General Public.

If anyone wishes to know whether a nonprofit is really an exempt organization, they may call the I.R.S, toll free,. at 1-877-829-5500.  Anyone may also check with the State that the nonprofit operates in.  Look up the Department of Justice and then the Attorney General's office, for that state, and either online or by phone, check with them whether a nonprofit is an official exempt organization.  Here is an example of the State of Oregon's Department of Justice's Attorney General's page on exempt organizations.  You can see, midway down the web page, that they have a database of official (or legal) exempt organizations.  Anyone curious about any nonprofit operating legally within Oregon, could check that.  Charity Navigator takes informing the public about a given nonprofit one step further, providing information that an informed donor (or anyone researching a current exempt organization) may want to know.

If anyone believes that a nonprofit's activities are outside the boundaries of its tax exempt status (i.e. its actions are questionable if not perhaps illegal), they may share their concerns with the I.R.S.  The I.R.S. charitable organization complaint process is outlined here.  The I.R.S. states on this web page that they take very seriously allegations of abuse of the tax exempt status.

Have you recently donated cash, a non-cash item such as a household item in good condition or an asset such as land or stocks; but you are not sure what you are allowed to deduct in your tax return for it?  See Tax Information for Contributors.

Not sure what you should do to properly deduct your charitable contributions on your tax return?  See the I.R.S.'s Ten Tips for Deducting Charitable Contributions. This article includes a link (at the bottom of the web page) explaining how to determine the value of a contributed item.

Are you aware of a local organization that has been soliciting for donations but you are not sure what kinds of organizations are considered legal exempt organization, according to the I.R.S.?  See the I.R.S.'s Types of Tax Exempt Organizations

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