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Five Things to Do to Prepare for 990s

Kick off the New Year with a Head Start on Your Form 990 Filing

As the new fiscal year unfolds, brimming with potential and plans, it’s wise to carve out a moment now for a critical task: preparing for your Form 990 filing. 

Whether you’re handling this tax form in-house or enlisting the expertise of an accountant, promptly organizing your documents as the fiscal year wraps up is a strategic move for a smoother filing process.

Remember, the filing deadline has a way of sneaking up on you.*

The filing deadline may seem far in the future but procrastination can be a pitfall. Delaying until just a month before the deadline can leave you scrambling, trying to recall the financial and programmatic nuances of a year that are quickly fading from memory. Tackling this task now ensures these details are still vivid and accessible.

Five things you can do now to prepare

To help you get started, take a look at this list of five things to do. You’ll be happy you did.

  1. File for an extension. Even if you file on time, an extension will give you some breathing room.
  2. Create a profit and loss or income and expense report for the previous fiscal year. And prepare to allocate your expenses to Program vs. Fundraising vs. Management & General categories, as the 990 requires. Review every line item for accuracy.
  3. Create a balance sheet for the fiscal year that just ended.
  • Make sure you’ve checked your current Unrestricted and Temporarily Restricted Net Asset Balances. 
  • Review each account to make sure its balance is justified. Bank account balances should have been reconciled with bank statements.
  • Accounts receivable balances should all still be collectible. Accounts payable balances should include all expenses from the previous fiscal year that weren’t paid. 
  • Accrued vacation pay or PTO balances should have been updated.
  • If applicable, make sure you have your grassroots & direct lobbying totals for the year, as well as any cost-sharing entries booked.
  1. Review your board minutes and note any times that your conflict of interest policy was invoked. You have a conflict of interest policy, right?
  2. Create a list of donors who contributed $5,000 or more in the previous calendar year. Include their addresses, donation amounts, and dates of donations. Indicate whether the gifts were asset gifts (equities, property, vehicles over $5,000) or cash.

By taking these proactive steps now, you’re setting the stage for a streamlined and stress-free Form 990 filing process. Here’s to a productive and well-prepared new fiscal year!

*If your fiscal year ends on Dec 31, your 990 is due on May 15. If your fiscal year ends on June 30, your 990 is due on Nov 15.

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