“I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help.”
“I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help.” With that opening remark, said with a smile in her voice, Director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS Lois Lerner began a recent webinar presentation on the division’s latest activities. She assured us that, although the teleconference lines were all muted, she could hear the chuckles from those listening in from around the country. Thanks, Independent Sector, for a great webinar focused on important federal regulatory issues related to the nonprofit sector.
I learned a few interesting things during the update by Ms. Lerner, who has been director of the EO Division since 2005 and who led the re-design of the Form 990. First, by the end of last year, the IRS had auto-revoked the tax exempt status of 396,600 organizations. These auto-revocations were mandated by the Pension Protection Act (passed in 2006) for organizations that haven’t filed returns for 3 years. I’ll have to take a look at the list to see how many of these revoked nonprofits are in Ohio; the previous count was over 13,000.
Lerner also discussed the division’s new EO Select Check, which she described as a one-stop, online search tool to access information on the country’s 1.8 million charities. It will be a handy and convenient tool that funders and individuals can use to check the status of organizations asking for money. It will be updated monthly from the IRS master file.
Ms. Lerner also remarked that the IRS is using information obtained from the Form 990 – including its multiple schedules – to build risk models to “improve case selection.” And, finally, the IRS has released the 2011 Form 990, although there are a few schedules and instructions that are still in draft form. Do you have comments to share about the Form? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
Vice president, communications & public policy