In recent years, the IRS has increased its scrutiny of tax-exempt organizations. Most nonprofits that fail to file Form 990 for three consecutive years will have their exempt status revoked automatically. The IRS is also cracking down on nonprofits that don’t properly classify workers as employees, don’t report unrelated business income, participate in off-limits political activities or engage in financial transactions with insiders.
If you’re experiencing compliance issues, you may be hesitant to reach out to the IRS. But the agency is generally willing to work with struggling organizations (and their advisors) to help them maintain their nonprofit status.
In addition to failing to file regularly or taking part in prohibited activities, nonprofits can trigger an IRS investigation with an innocent math or other filing preparation error. If you discover you’ve made a mistake, act quickly and get professional advice. The earlier you bring an error to the attention of your tax advisor, the easier it is to make right.
Also, make sure that you don’t brush off a potential compliance problem because you don’t understand it or don’t have time to deal with it. And don’t let embarrassment prevent you from taking the right steps. Innocent mistakes don’t have to reflect badly on your organization. Getting caught trying to sweep mistakes under the rug, however, can bring your judgment — not to mention your nonprofit’s reputation and funding — into question.
Consult your advisors
Tax advisors have experience working with the IRS, so listen carefully to your experts’ advice and follow their lead in amending any errors. These advisors can even accompany you if you need to meet with the IRS in person or by phone.
By taking the proactive path and approaching the IRS before you receive a notice, you’ll find that the agency is likely to be more amenable to finding a solution. Taking the initiative can also speed up the process so that you can get back to running your organization.
Don’t put your organization at risk for interruptions, fines or censure. If you’re having trouble complying with IRS regulations, discover you’ve made a filing error or receive an IRS notice of audit or compliance check, contact us immediately. We can help you catch up and repair mistakes.