The Internal Revenue Service has introduced an online search tool that will allow the public to easily check on information about tax-exempt organizations, such as charities and other nonprofits.
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The new online search tool, dubbed Exempt Organizations Select Check, will help users more easily find key information about tax-exempt organizations, such as their federal tax status and filings.
In some ways, the new search tool unites previously available information that had to be found in separate areas of the IRS’s Web site. Users can visit a single location on IRS.gov, select a tax-exempt organization, and check whether the organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions (Publication 78 data, which is incorporated here). Users can also consult the tool to determine the deductibility of contributions, just as they did when Publication 78 was a separate electronic publication rather than part of Select Check.
In addition, users can check whether an organization has had its federal tax exemption automatically revoked under the law for not filing a Form 990-series return or a notice for three consecutive years, known as the Auto-Revocation List.
Users of the tool can also find out whether an organization has filed a Form 990-N (e-Postcard) annual electronic notice. Most small organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less are required to electronically submit Form 990-N, unless they choose instead to file a completed Form 990 or Form 990-EZ.
EO Select Check also offers improved search functions. For example, users can now check for organizations that are eligible to receive deductible contributions by Employer Identification Number, or EIN, which was previously not a searchable or sortable field in the electronic version of Publication 78. Information about organizations that are eligible to receive deductible contributions is now updated monthly, rather than quarterly.
In addition, organizations that have automatically lost their tax exemptions can now be searched by EIN, name, city, state, zip code, country, exemption type, and revocation posting date, rather than only by state.
EO Select Check also provides pop-up help text to help users understand the significance of auto-revocation search results, including the meaning of, and distinctions between, revocation dates and revocation posting dates. Also available are search tips that provide suggestions on how to use the search application.
While the IRS tool provides information on tax-exempt status, there are also other sites that provide information about the reputations of charities and other nonprofit organizations. They include GuideStar, Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau.
Prior to the introduction of EO Select Check, the electronic Publication 78 and Exempt Organiztions Business Master Files Extract, or EO BMF, were updated on different schedules, causing some confusion. Now both the Select Check Pub 78 Data and EO BMF are updated monthly, but not necessarily on the same day, the IRS noted. To assist in searches, the IRS is now publishing the date that the data was posted to each of the three applications on EO Select Check, as well as on EO BMF.