How to Access the Tax Returns of Non-Profit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations are required to fill out and submit Form 990 to the Internal Revenue Service each year. This form details the organization’s finances and operations. It includes information on financial data, a list of grants awarded and names of the organization’s board, trustees and officers. It is not meant to take the place of an audit or an annual report, but instead provide a consistent format for nonprofits to submit their tax information to the IRS. Federal law requires that nonprofits publish the 990 so that it is widely accessible to the general population (often done online) or that nonprofits make a copy of their most recent 990s available upon request to the public. Therefore, accessing one is relatively easy.

Contact the individual organization whose Form 990 you want to see. Ask to speak with the executive director or the financial department. Request a copy of the 990.

Look on the organization’s website. Some organizations may make their latest 990 available on an accountability or donation page. The more transparent the organization, the more likely members of the public will trust it with its money.

Check out hubs for nonprofits and donors on the Internet, such as GuideStar and the Foundation Center’s 990 Finder. (See Resources.) These sites publish the 990s of nonprofits. The 990s are available to download.