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Have You Ever Wondered If a Charity is Legitimate?

Every day we’re solicited for contributions through the internet, mail, phone, even as we leave the grocery store. How do we know if any of these solicitations are truly charitable? Are the companies even approved as 501(c)3 organizations? If they’re not, any contributions to them do not qualify as charitable deductions and what they do with your contributions may be more for the benefit of the organizers than anyone who has a true need.

The good news is: a few clicks and you’ll have some answers. The IRS recently launched its upgraded search tool, the Exempt Organizations Select Check, to help users obtain information about any tax-exempt organizations, including their federal tax status and filings, at www.IRS.gov.

Three key areas are searchable:

  1. With the higher reporting standards since 2008, many organizations found they involuntarily lost their exempt status. Under law, a federal tax exemption is automatically revoked for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years (known as the Auto-Revocation List). You can also see if an organization has filed a recent Form 990-N (the online version of the annual return for not-for-profits with under $25,000 in total receipts).
  2. Improved search functions also enable users to look for organizations eligible to receive deductible contributions by Employer Identification Number (EIN), which wasn’t a searchable or sortable field in previous search tools. Another enhancement is a monthly database update instead of quarterly.
  3. Finally organizations that automatically lost their tax exemptions can be searched by their EIN, name, city, state, ZIP Code, country, exemption type, and revocation posting date. Previously they were only grouped by state. Exempt Organizations Select Check also provides pop-up help text to assist users in understanding the significance of auto-revocation search results, including the meaning of, and distinctions between, revocation dates and revocation posting dates

For those preferring to follow the old fashioned method of investigation, you can still call the IRS (toll-free) at 1-877-829-5500 to ask any questions. You can also ask the organization directly to see their determination letter issued by the IRS stating the approval of their tax-exempt status.

If you’d like clarification on any of the search methods described above, contact Patrick & Robinson at your convenience — Office@CPAsite.com or (904) 396-5400. We’re here to help you avoid the IRS’ hammer, so be 100% sure before you donate your hard-earned cash!

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