January 28, 2020
For the past few years, Charity Navigator has pointed to the benefits and importance of electronically filing (e-File) the IRS Form 990. Because the content gleaned from an e-Filed 990 is machine-readable, it is more accessible for the general public. Electronically filing the 990 provides charities with a direct line to the IRS for providing this document in a more timely manner while avoiding any issues that can arise via regular mail. This also has the added benefit of allowing Charity Navigator to rate organizations more efficiently.
Per a new federal law, e-Filing the 990 has become mandatory. The Taxpayer First Act, enacted July 1, 2019, will require tax-exempt organizations to e-File 990 returns for reporting periods that end on or after July 31,2020. There are some exceptions outlined in the law, but it is very important that organizations take note of this change so they comply with the new law.
Charity Navigator plans to notify all the charities we currently evaluate via email to ensure that they are aware of this change. The majority of organizations that Charity Navigator evaluates already e-File their 990s, so we do not anticipate that this requirement will be a major disruption to a large portion of the industry. The IRS is providing resources to assist charities who had not e-Filed in the past - these resources can be found on their website. We anticipate that, in the long term, this change will be positive for both charities, and the donors they steward with the information contained in the 990.