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IRS Releases Wave of Nonprofit Data in New Format

Jun 17th 2016
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The IRS on June 16 unleashed data on electronically filed 990 forms that will be available for the first time in a machine-readable format through Amazon Web Services (AWS).

It does not include donor information or other personally identifiable information, the IRS said.

“The publicly available information on the Form 990 series is vital to those interested in the tax-exempt community,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a written statement. “The IRS appreciates the feedback we’ve received from a variety of outside partners as we’ve worked together to explore improvements to make this data more easily accessible.”

The information, which includes filings from 2011 to the present, will be downloadable as an XML file via the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). It includes data from Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, Form 990-EZ, Short FormReturn of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, and Form 990-PF, Return of Private Foundation, which have been electronically filed with the IRS and will be updated monthly in an XML format.

This Form 990 data was previously only available in image files.

The data can be used to perform research and analysis of nonprofit organizations that have electronically filed forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-PF. The XML files contain “structured information that represents the main 990 form, any filed forms and schedules, and other control information describing how the document was filed,” according to the AWS web page.

Certain donor information, including personally identifiable tax-identification numbers, is not available to prevent misuse of the data.

Form 990-N (e-Postcard), which is used by smaller tax-exempt organizations, is not included in this data set. Those forms can be viewed and downloaded from the IRS website.

More than 60 percent of all Form 990 returns are electronically filed with the IRS, the tax agency said. Both paper and electronically filed 990 returns will continue to have image files made and these files will continue to be available by DVD.

A tax-exempt organization must file an annual information return or notice with the IRS, unless an exception applies. Annual information returns include forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-PF. Form 990-N is an annual notice.

Form 990 is the IRS’s primary tool for gathering information about tax-exempt organizations, educating organizations about tax law requirements, and promoting compliance. Nonprofit organizations also use the Form 990 to share information with the public about their programs. Additionally, most states rely on the Form 990 to perform charitable and other regulatory oversight and to satisfy state income tax-filing requirements for organizations claiming exemption from state income tax.

Related article:

How Nonprofits Can Use Form 990 as a Marketing Tool

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