May 17 Deadline for Form 990’s

The Internal Revenue Service recently released IRS-2021-104 reminding tax-exempt organizations that operate on a calendar-year (CY) basis that certain annual information and tax returns are due on May 17, 2021. These returns are:

  • Form 990-series annual information returns (Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, 990-BL)
  • Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations Not Required to File Form 990 or Form 990-EZ
  • Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (other than certain trusts)
  • Form 4720, Return of Certain Excise Taxes Under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code

Organizations filing a Form 990, 990-PF or 990-N for CY2020 must file their returns electronically. Organizations filing Form 990-EZ for CY2020 may file electronically or in paper.

To help exempt organizations comply with their filing requirements, the IRS provides a series of prerecorded online workshops.

Extension of Time to File

Tax-exempt organizations that need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request an automatic extension by filing Form 8868, Application for Extension of Time to File an Exempt Organization Return. It is important to remember that extending the time for filing a return does not extend the time for paying tax that is due. The IRS encourages organizations requesting an extension to electronically file Form 8868.


Organizations that fail to file their Form 990 series for three consecutive years automatically lose their exempt status. This is referred to as “auto-revocation.” Due to delays in processing paper returns, the IRS is encouraging organizations to electronically file their Form 990-EZ. This will help an organization avoid if they did not file their information returns for CY2018 and CY2019.

Small tax-exempt organizations may be eligible to file Form 990-N. The form must be electronically filed, and the due date cannot be extended. Although there is no monetary penalty for filing Form 990-N late, organizations that failed to file their required Form 990-N for CY2018 and CY2019, and file after May 17, 2021, are auto-revoked

The IRS publishes a list of, and mails notices to, organizations whose tax-exempt status has been automatically revoked. The IRS has procedures in place to assist organizations that believe they have been erroneously listed as auto-revoked.

More information on Form 990 filing can also be found at ECFA’s 2021 Church ad Nonprofit Tax & Financial Guide.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.