Thursday, August 6, 2009

Federal Tax Filing Review standard

This post was written by Shelley Heil, who has been interning at the Charities Review Council this summer. Shelley is pursuing degrees in Sociology and Spanish at Wheaton College in Illinois.

This standard requires boards to have a hand in the 990 filing process. It is a type of internal accountability. One way we like to approach the standards is by asking, what could happen if this was not in place? Making sure that boards review the document is another way to check for accuracy. Moreover, we hope that boards would want to take part in this process. The Form 990 is a significant public disclosure document for nonprofits; it’s a resource for donors as well as the community at large. Board oversight displays the leadership’s involvement as well as familiarity with and support of the completed 990.

It may also be interesting to note that the redesigned IRS Form 990 gives a great deal of attention to governance issues, consequently it moves beyond simple financial data. The new 990 asks if the board has seen and reviewed the submitted 990 document (see Part VI, Section A, line 10). The government doesn’t go as far as requiring approval or attention to the 990 by the nonprofit’s governing body, it simply requests the information.

Here’s our question to you: Is it really feasible (and/or necessary) for the full board to review the completed IRS Form 990?

Coming Next: Board Fiduciary Oversight

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