2016 Form 990 and Instructions Changes

By: Laurie Hanson

The Form 990 and its many schedules remained largely unchanged for tax year 2016. The changes can be summarized pretty quickly, and include the following:

  1. For returns that cannot be electronically filed, the IRS previously considered returns that were delivered via USPS, FedEx and UPS as timely filed if postmarked at least by the due date of the return. The IRS has added DHL Express to this listing. Whenever a return is mailed to the IRS, regardless of the service used, we encourage you to obtain and retain the receipt for proof of mailing. That way, if the IRS later assesses a penalty for late filing, you’ll have proof that the return was filed on time and will be able to easily have the penalties abated.
  2. For tax years beginning after 12/31/15, the first extension for Form 990 and 990-EZ will cover a six-month period. A second extension is no longer available. Previously, two three-month extensions were available. Form 990 is due 4 ½ months after year end. The extension makes the return due 10 ½ months after year end. Thus, the final filing due date with extensions remains unchanged.
  3. The publicly supported charity definition has been updated to include an agricultural research organization under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 170(b)(1)(A)(ix). This only pertains to IRC 501(c)(3) organizations that are exempt as a public charity and operate as agricultural research organizations. In other words, it doesn’t affect most organizations.
  4. Goods or services with insubstantial value have been indexed for inflation. The value of items valued at $10.60 or less that bear the organization’s name or logo and are given to donors in exchange for a donation need not be disclosed to the donor.
  5. For Hospitals, a few minor changes have been made to Schedule H to better reflect compliance with the final regulations under 501(r)..
  6. Form 990-T has been updated to include a specific line for tax on hospitals that are not compliant with IRC 501(r) regulations. The tax is not new. Only the line on the form is new.

Beyond Form 990 itself, you may be interested in the following nonprofit related tax issues:

If your organization hires veterans, you may be eligible for a credit against the employer portion of social security tax on wages paid to all employees. The credit applies to qualified first-year wages paid to qualified veterans who began work for the organization after December 31, 2014 and before January 1, 2020. The qualified veteran must be performing services in activities related to the purpose or function constituting the basis of the organization’s tax exempt status under IRC 501. The credit is claimed on Form 5884-C.

If your organization has foreign bank accounts with an aggregate value exceeding $10,000 at any time during the calendar year, Form 114 FinCEN, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) is required to be filed by April 15. A six-month extension is available. Previously, this form was due June 30 with no extensions.

Please feel free to contact your Eide Bailly nonprofit tax advisor to discuss any of the above items.

New Year Resolutions for your Accounting Team

By: Peggy E. Jennings, CPA, Partnerpeggy

If you are like me, you have already forgotten the promises made in the wee hours of 2017 meant to improve health, personal outlook and work habits. We might be forgetful when it comes to self-improvement, but it isn’t too late to consider some improvements to your accounting process that can find efficiencies to be enjoyed all year round.

Some things to consider for 2017:

  • Walkthroughs –determine how processes for transactions, information flow and approvals are actually working on a daily basis. The goal isn’t to create a fancy spreadsheet but to consider improvements to processes that can save valuable time. Challenge the adage “we’ve always done it this way” to determine the most efficient means to achieve the tasks.
  • Ask questions – is this process necessary? Does it add value? Can it be automated? Is there a duplication of effort between teams? Is anyone using the output? Are roles and responsibilities appropriate?
  • Document – after evaluating existing processes and procedures, documenting any updates to existing policies, or creating policies in areas where little documentation existed previously, will provide a tool for staff to utilize in successfully implementing the procedures. Such documentation can also be incorporated into training materials.
  • Training – after you have determined the most efficient means to achieve tasks and have created new and improved processes, take the time now to fully training your personnel in the new processes so that all can be successful in their positions and responsibilities.
  • Develop process metrics – a good way to measure success is by measuring activity. Consider what metrics can be tracked, such as number of invoices processed, number of days in cycle time (invoice date to approval date), number of manually processed payments, number of invoices processed electronically

Reward success! Change is not easy and it takes a lot of effort to change established processes even when the personnel involved are fully on-board. Listen for needed tweaks to the new processes (internal controls are never final) and take the time to recognize achievement.

Here’s to an efficient and successful 2017!