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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I obtain copies of a public charity's IRS Form 990?

All public charities over a certain minimum size file an IRS Form 990, which provides information about a charity's financial data that is accurate and open for public scrutiny (including whether the charity makes grants). First, check the charity's Web site to see if it posts its Form 990. This is the best way to get the most current information. If the Form 990 is unavailable on a charity's Web site, you may need to try one or more of the following resources.

  • The Foundation Center's 990 Finder allows Forms 990 to be searched directly online in PDF format. 990 Search is searchable by charity name, state, zip code, and EIN number. Coverage is growing each week and eventually most nonprofit Forms 990 will be available here.

  • Economic Research Institute's web site has a search tool to find nonprofit information, including links to Forms 990. This company provides compensation, benefits, and human resource research for private and public organizations in the form of published reports and software database products.

  • GuideStar, an online database of information on the activities and finances of nearly one million nonprofit organizations, run by Philanthropic Research Inc., makes Forms 990 accessible via its Web site. You will need to complete a free registration process in order to access Forms 990 via Guidestar. Note: older ("archived") forms may require a fee to access.

  • If the organization you are looking for is in California, the State Attorney General's office of California is now posting nearly 90,000 California state charity and foundation tax returns (990's, 990-EZ's, and 990-PF's) at its Web site. Other state attorneys general may be following suit.

  • You can also obtain copies of Forms 990 from the IRS by mail. Write to: Ogden Service Center, P.O. Box 9941, Mail Stop 6734, Ogden, Utah, 84409. Include the full name of the nonprofit organization and the city and state where it is located. The IRS will bill you for the cost of the copies. You can also fax a request to: 801-775-8803. The IRS has established a toll-free number to handle questions on exempt organizations: (877) 829-5500. You may also try contacting your local State Attorney General's Office.

The IRS issued final regulations, which took effect on June 8, 1999, regarding the public disclosure requirements of tax-exempt organizations other than private foundations. The organizations covered include public charities and other exempt organizations (except private foundations). The new rules require that copies of the three most recent annual returns (Forms 990), as well as the nonprofit's exemption application, be provided to a member of the public immediately if requested in person, or within 30 days of a written request at no charge other than a reasonable fee to cover photocopying and mailing expenses. In addition to the actual Form 990, the IRS requires that all schedules, attachments and supporting documents also be included. Charities are not required to disclose the names and addresses of contributors, however. The full text of these regulations is available in the Federal Register (Volume 64, Number 68) dated April 9, 1999.

See also our FAQ "What are Forms 990-PF and where can I find them?" for information on private foundation tax returns.

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