IRS’ Debuts New and Improved Exempt Organization Search

The IRS has debuted a new and improved exempt organization search page.  Previously, the public could use the IRS’ Select Check tool to look up an organization by name or EIN.

However, Select Check only permitted confirmation of an organization’s tax-exempt status and whether the organization was a public charity or private foundation. 

The search was limited in that users had to choose the organization’s status from a dropdown list (e.g. active, inactive).  If the searched organization did not appear after choosing ˜Active’, then the user would go down the dropdown list until the organization was found (if the organization was in the database). The Select Check system was notoriously buggy and hard to use.

The new Tax Exempt Organization Search is not only more user-friendly but the search capability has been expanded.  The options for the search are: Search all, Pub 78 Data, Auto-Revocation List, Determination Letters, Form 990-N (e-Postcard), and Copies of Returns (990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, 990-T).

The best feature is Search All which allows the user to search the entire database by only entering the organization’s name or the Employer Identification Number.  This feature displays all of the information available for the searched organization in the database on one screen.

The IRS is working on updating the system with IRS Determination letters dated on or after January 1, 2014.  Currently, there are a limited number of available determination letters, but the IRS expects to have all determination letters issued since January 1, 2014 available online soon.

Similarly, filed Form-990 returns, including 990-N data, are available from as recent as February 2018. The IRS is adding future filed Form 990 returns on a monthly basis.  In the meantime, Guidestar is another resource for obtaining the most recently filed tax return.

Information on Tax Exemption Organizations Search will be updated as follows:

  • Organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions updated monthly
  • Organizations whose exempt status has been automatically revoked updated weekly
  • Favorable determination letters updated regularly
  • Organizations that submitted Forms 990-N (e-Postcard) updated weekly
  • Copies of Returns (Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, 990-T) updated monthly

Therefore, if an organization does not appear after your initial search we suggest you try again a few days later.

This is a welcome development that should create greater transparency in the sector and streamline due diligence efforts for donors, regulators, and grantmakers.

Ellis Carter is a nonprofit lawyer with Caritas Law Group, P.C. licensed to practice in Washington and Arizona. Ellis advises nonprofit and socially responsible businesses on corporate, tax, and fundraising regulations nationwide. Ellis also advises donors with regard to major gifts. To schedule a consultation with Ellis, call 602-456-0071 or email us through our contact form.

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