Remember the Exempt Organization (EO) Select Check? It’s no longer available. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has introduced a new online tool, the Tax Exempt Organization Search (TEOS), on its website to provide “faster, easier access” to information about tax-exempt organizations.
Under the old Select Check system, you could check a tax-exempt organization’s federal tax status with a title or word search, or by using the organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN). With TEOS, you can confirm whether an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, has had its tax-exempt status revoked because it failed to file required forms or notices for three consecutive years and, for a small organization, whether it filed a Form 990-N (e-Postcard) annual electronic notice with the IRS. For larger organizations, you can also find other useful information, including copies of recently filed forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, and 990-T. Previously, that information was typically only available by asking the charity directly, or by using a third-party service like Charity Navigator.
Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter noted that TEOS will benefit those considering donations, saying, “This new tool provides taxpayers an easy way to get information about charitable organizations.” How easy? I decided to give the new tool a whirl. For my first try, I chose Respite Care Charleston, one of the 12 Days of Charitable Giving organizations from 2017.
To search, head over to the search page and enter the information that you know:
And here are the results:
TEOS confirmed the tax-exempt status for Respite Care Charleston but didn’t offer any additional information. So, to try out the other features on the site, I tried some additional organizations.
Next up? The United States Women’s Curling Association (if you follow me @taxgirl on Twitter, you know I’m a curling fan). In addition to confirming status, the tool provided proof of filing the e-postcard (form 990-N), used for small tax-exempt organizations with average annual receipts of $50,000 or less:
On the actual search results page, you can click on the link to view the e-Postcard information for any of the years posted.
(In case you’re wondering, the deadline for the 2017 e-Postcard isn’t here just yet. It’s May 15, 2018, for most tax-exempt organizations.)
Failure to file any of the form 990 series (990, 990-EZ or 990-N) for three consecutive years will result in an automatic loss of tax-exempt status. If that happens, an organization will not be eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. With the new tool, you can identify an organization whose tax-exempt status has been revoked for failure to file (with the old system, scouring the database was more complicated and required a separate search). Here’s an example of the revocation notice for the International Ferret Congress:
And remember one of my 13 Tips For Making Your Charitable Donation Tax-Deductible? I used to advise that if you were not sure whether an organization is qualified, you should ask to see the organization’s IRS determination letter. Now, using TEOS, you may be able to view a copy of the organization’s determination letter online. So far, only a limited number of determination letters are available on the website but eventually those letters issued since January 2014 will be available. If the letter is available, it will appear as a link for you to download. Here’s an example of what the search results page looks like for the Chicago Lawyers Rugby Football Club (no, I didn’t know there was such a thing either, but as a lawyer and a rugby fan, I’m totally intrigued):
Again, on the actual search results page, you can click on the link to download a copy of the determination letter.
As noted earlier, the site will also eventually include forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF and 990-T for you to browse. For now, the data only includes form 990-series returns filed in January and February 2018. The IRS will add future forms 990 each month as they are filed.
According to the IRS, TEOS is also mobile-friendly, which makes it usable on smartphones or tablets.