WASHINGTON, D.C.–Charities and other non-profit groups must make copies of their three most recent tax returns available to anyone who requests them in person at a principal, regional or district office during regular business hours and to anyone who requests them in writing within 30 days, according to new Internal Revenue Service rules issued in early April.
The rules will take effect June 8.
Alternatively, the charities and non-profit groups may make the information on their tax forms widely available on a World-Wide Web site.
The rules implement a new law passed by Congress last year that makes groups which receive tax-exempt status more accountable to the public.
Since 1987, the law has required that non-profit returns, Form 990s, be made available for inspection. However, requesters were not entitled to have copies made, and written requests did not have to be honored.
Form 990s describe a program’s major funding sources and major expenditures. Churches are not required to provide Form 990s to the IRS, though private schools are.
The new law also extends openness requirements to private foundations. However, the IRS has not yet completed its regulations governing how that information is to be made available. (Tax and Trade Relief Extension Act)