The internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations to have certain documents available to the public, and these documents must be provided upon request. Therefore, nonprofit organizations should maintain these documents permanently. Below is a list of the required documents along with information on how to retrieve any of these documents that the organization may not have on file.

Form 1023 – This is the organization’s initial application submitted to the IRS requesting tax-exempt status.NonProfit

IRS Determination Letter – This is the official letter from the IRS approving the Form 1023 tax-exempt status.

Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-N – These are the annual tax filings required depending on the organization’s gross revenue and assets.  The IRS does not specifically define how many years of tax returns must be retained. Remember that the distribution of Schedule B is NOT required as this schedule includes the names, addresses and amounts received from major donors.

Form 990-T – This is required for Unrelated Business Taxable Income generated by nonprofits.  The IRS requires that one retain the last three years of this filing for public inspection.

There are a few ways one can retrieve these documents if the organization does not have them:

  1. Check with the attorney or CPA who prepared these documents for the organization as they may have retained a copy.
  2. Complete IRS Form 4506-A to request a free copy. It may take up to 60 days for the IRS to respond to the request.
  3. For 990-N filings, check the IRS website:

For 990 or 990-EZ filings, check for a free copy. This organization receives copies of 990 tax returns from the IRS and publishes these for use by donors when making decisions regarding nonprofits to support.

Please contact the Not-for-Profit Niche team at Gilliam Bell Moser LLP for further guidance.