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Foundation Operations: Finance-> Tax Status-> Revised Form 990

Revised IRS Form 990: What Foundations Need to Know

The IRS Form 990 is an important source of information about a foundation’s governance, programs, and operations for federal and state regulators, as well as the media and the public. Tax-exempt organizations, including foundations, also file the return to maintain their tax-exempt status.

In 2009 some foundations will be required to file the revised IRS Form 990 for fiscal year 2008 activities. These changes are particularly relevant for foundations designated as public charities and those with donor advised funds. It is important to note that there have been no changes to the Form 990-PF--the form filed by private foundations.

Foundations must use the revised Form 990 if:

  • the foundation has annual receipts of $1 million or more, or assets of $2.5 million or more;
  • the foundation maintains any donor advised funds;
  • the foundation is recognized as a tax-exempt organization under section 509(a)(3) – specifically if it is a supporting organizations that qualifies as a public charity – or 512(b)(13), which is a controlling organization; or
  • the foundation is not recognized as a private foundation as described under section 509(a) of the tax code.


The revised Form 900 includes changes in reporting requirements and to the Schedules. Several new Schedules were also added. Key changes in reporting requirements include information on governance and compensation of officers, directors, trustees, key employees, and highest compensated employees. Other substantial changes include determination of public charity status and public support; reporting of supplemental financial statements; and information on fundraising, special events, and gaming.




Gose, Ben, “IRS Releases Instructions for New Charity Tax Form,” The Chronicle of Philanthropy, August 19, 2008.

Independent Sector, What Organizations Need to Know About the New Form 990, (Washington, DC: September 2008).

Internal Revenue Service, “IRS Completed 2008 Form 990 Instructions and Background Documents,” August 2008.

Internal Revenue Service, Background Paper: Summary of Form 990 Redesign Process (Washington, DC: August 2008).

Internal Revenue Service, Background Paper: Forms 990, Moving From the Old to the New (Washington, DC: August 2008).


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