On March 13, 2020, an emergency declaration was issued authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to provide relief from certain tax deadlines for taxpayers impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. In response, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) postponed the deadlines for certain time-sensitive actions, including the deadline for exempt organizations to file an annual information return or electronic notice on Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF or 990-N. Typically, a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, or 990-N must be filed by the 15th day of the 5th month after the end of an organization’s accounting period (e.g., for an organization with a fiscal year end of December 31, the filing is due on May 15 of the following year). In Notices 2020-23 and 2020-35, on account of COVID-19, the IRS postponed the due date for filings originally due to be submitted between April 1, 2020 and July 14, 2020 until July 15, 2020.

If a tax-exempt organization fails to file a required Form 990-series annual return or notice for three consecutive years, such organization’s tax exemption is considered revoked as of the due date of the third annual return or notice. The IRS issues notice of such revocation to each affected organization, and maintains a public list of organizations whose exempt status has been so revoked on IRS.gov. On October 26, 2020, the IRS issued a statement that “due to systemic limitations” it was unable to update the computer program that automatically issues notices of revocation to recognize the extended July 15, 2020 deadline. As a result, some revocation notices were issued prematurely to organizations that did not meet their original filing deadlines. The IRS was, however, able to prevent eligible organizations that attempted to file electronically by July 15 from being publicly listed as automatically revoked, so such organizations are still shown as tax-exempt on the IRS website.

According to its statement, the IRS is currently processing paper filings that allow the reversal of auto-revocation, and reviewing cases and corresponding with organizations that received a premature notice. Affected organizations can use the dedicated fax number (855) 247-6123 to correspond with the IRS and present documentation of applicable filings.

A. Benion