A New Tool to Check on Valid Charitable Organizations

All of us are solicited with various opportunities to contribute to charitable or eleemosynary organizations (IRC § 501(c)(3)), but unless they are easily recognized organizations such as United Way many of us may not know whether the organization is truly recognized as a bona fide charitable organization.  It is important to determine whether the organization is a valid charitable organization before you make a contribution to any purported “charity.”  First, if you contribute to an organization that is not a valid charity any charitable contribution deduction you claim on your tax return is invalid.  In addition, there is a high probability that if an organization is not a valid charity that the hard earned money you are giving the organization is not being used for the purposes you may think.

To aid in your ability to determine whether the charity is a valid charitable organization, the IRS just launched a new online search tool, Exempt Organizations Select Check, to help taxpayers more easily find key information about tax-exempt organizations, such as federal tax status and filings.

By using the tool, you can check if the organization:

  • Is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. Taxpayers can rely on this list in determining deductibility of contributions.
  • Has its federal tax exemption automatically revoked under the law for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years. (This is known as the Auto-Revocation List).
  • Has filed a Form 990-N annual electronic notice. (Most small organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less are required to electronically submit Form 990-N, unless they choose instead to file a completed Form 990 or Form 990-EZ.)

Exempt Organization Select Check also offers new search functions. For example, users can now look for organizations eligible to receive deductible contributions by Employer Identification Number (EIN). Also, information about organizations eligible to receive deductible contributions is now updated monthly, rather than quarterly.

To access the tool go to www.irs.gov and type in the search bar: Exempt Organization Select Check.

In addition, organizations that have automatically lost their tax exemptions can now be searched by EIN, name, city, state, zip code, country, exemption type, and revocation posting date, rather than only by state. EO Select Check also provides new 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.

If you have any questions regarding this note or need assistance with any other legal matter, please feel free to contact me.


Dennis P. Brookshire

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