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Due Date to Preserve Tax-Exempt Status: October 15, 2010

On July 26, 2010, the IRS instituted a one-time relief program under which that small nonprofit organizations at risk of losing their tax exempt status because they failed to file required returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 can preserve their status by filing returns by October 15, 2010. The IRS also posted on its website the names and last-known addresses of these at-risk organizations, along with guidance about how to come back into compliance.

There are two types of relief available for small exempt organizations. First, filing an extension for the smallest organizations required to file Form 990-N. An organization simply needs to go the IRS website, supply the information items required by the Form 990-N, and electronically file it by October 15, 2010.

Second, IRS has a voluntary compliance program (“VCP”) for small organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ (Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax). Under the VCP, tax-exempt organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ must file their delinquent annual information returns by October 15, 2010 and pay a compliance fee. More details are available on the IRS website.

The relief announced today is not available to larger organizations required to file the Form 990 or to private foundations that file the Form 990-PF.

Once an organization loses its exemption, it has to reapply with the IRS to regain its tax-exempt status. Any income received between the revocation date and renewed exemption may be taxable.