Every year, IRS Forms 990-PF are filed with inaccuracies and mistakes that can be costly to a foundation’s wallet and reputation. Seeking assistance from tax advisors that have the right technology and technical knowledge can help to avoid these errors.
One such example is that starting with the 2020 tax year, Form 990-PF has been required to be filed electronically. Foundations that submitted a paper filing have already received or will receive a notice from the IRS for incomplete filing of their 2020 or 2021 Form 990-PF because they didn’t meet the electronic-filing requirement.
Further, Forms 990-T and 4720 are also required to be electronically filed, when these filings are applicable for a private foundation.
May 15 Deadline for Electronic Filing
Now that the 2022 Form 990-PF and instructions have been released by the IRS—including the continued requirement for electronic filing—many private foundations have shifted focus to filings for the 2022 tax year and are already either working with their tax advisor or preparing this annual filing on their own as the May 15 deadline approaches.
This leaves many private foundations wondering where they should focus when preparing or reviewing its Form 990-PF.
Form 990-PF Focus Areas
Of the 17 sections of the form, below are the areas that could be of particular significance along with important questions and considerations for each.
Part I: Analysis of Revenue and Expenses
- Is the foundation a cash or accrual basis taxpayer? If it has audited financial statements each year, accrual is likely the better choice for consistency—but that could involve an accounting method change.
- Has the foundation accurately reflected direct investment expenses against investment income and a reasonable allocation of indirect expenses?
- Are disbursements for charitable purposes reported on the cash basis only, which is required for column D?
Parts II and III: Balance Sheets and Analysis of Changes in Net Assets or Fund Balances
- Has the breakout of investments by type been presented correctly and detailed out by investment in the appropriate supplemental statement?
- Note for 2022, lines 24 and 25 have been updated to reflect the two net asset classes—net assets with and without donor restrictions.
- Have unrealized gains and losses been presented as other increases or decreases rather than in investment income?
Part VI-A: Statements Regarding Activities
- Has the foundation properly responded regarding any attempts to influence any national, state, or local legislation, political activities, or new activities the foundation hadn’t previously engaged in?
- Did the foundation generate unrelated business gross income of $1,000 or more and is therefore filing a Form 990-T?
- Did the foundation engage in any activities not previously reported to the IRS?
- Did the foundation make changes, not previously reported to the IRS, to its governing documents?
Several of these questions are answered with a yes or no, but they require the foundation to provide further explanation in a supplemental statement.
Part VI-B: Statements Regarding Activities That Could Require Form 4720
- Did the foundation conduct transactions with its founder, board members, officers, substantial contributors, or family members or the controlled entities of any of these individuals? Consider sales, property leases, borrowing, furnishing goods or services, and professional services or expense reimbursements.
- Did the foundation provide grants to individuals, non-charitable organizations, or for purposes other than religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational? Think about scholarships to individuals for travel, study, or other similar purposes; grants to foreign organizations; or program-related investments involving a for-profit entity.
Many of these activities could be subject to correction, payment of an excise tax by the disqualified person, and reporting on a Form 4720. Careful thought should be given to the activities of the foundation for future purposes, not just for filing Form 990-PF.
Part VII: Information About Officers, Directors, Trustees, Foundation Managers, Highly Paid Employees, and Contractors
- Announcement (Ann.) 2021-18, 2021-52 in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) revoked Ann. 2001-33, 2001-17 IRB 1137, which provided tax-exempt organizations with reasonable cause for purposes of relief from certain compensation reporting approaches.
- Ann. 2021-18 instructs affected tax-exempt organizations to follow the specific instructions to the Form 990-PF regarding reporting compensation for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2022.
Part IX: Minimum Investment Return
- Has the foundation used the correct method for averaging cash balances and a reasonable and consistent method for averaging the monthly fair market value of securities?
- Have all assets from Part II been included in the calculation that don’t have a direct correlation to charitable-use activities?
Private foundations that don’t include all non-charitable use assets or incorrectly calculate the fair market value are at a risk of reporting a lower minimum investment return than they actually have. This could cause undistributed income and an excise tax the foundation didn’t realize or intend.
We’re Here to Help
For help with preparing and filing your Form 990-PF or if you have questions regarding Private Foundations, contact your Moss Adams professional.