Protect Your PTA’s Tax-Exempt Status—File with the IRS On Time!

The IRS requires every 501(c)3 non-profit organization to file some variety of the Form 990 annually. Failure to file for three consecutive years will result in your PTA’s non-profit status being revoked and having to pay taxes on your PTA’s income. In addition, many businesses will not make donations to organizations that are not tax-exempt.

Which IRS Form 990 you need to file depends on your PTA’s gross income. Gross income is the total amount of money your PTA takes in over the fiscal year, including all membership dues. Here’s how the IRS breaks down who files which Form 990:

Your PTA will need to file by the 15th day of the fifth month after the end of your fiscal year. For PTAs that have their fiscal year end on June 30th, the filing deadline is November 15th.

For most PTAs, only the online Form 990-N is required. Completing the form takes less than ten minutes, and the IRS will usually notify you within an hour that your form has been accepted. Be sure to print out this receipt and send it in to the Illinois PTA state office along with a copy of your audit report by December 31st (you can send this along with your dues payment).

Here is the information you will need to complete the Form 990-N:

Organization’s legal name

An organization’s legal name is the organization’s name as it appears in the articles of incorporation or similar organizing document, as most recently amended and (when required by state law) filed with the appropriate state authority. If you have changed your organization’s legal name, you must inform the IRS of the new name and provide certain supporting documentation before filing your e-Postcard.  You should report the change of name as far in advance of your filing deadline as possible.  If you haven’t received an affirmation letter reflecting your name change by the time your return is due, you will have to file a paper return (Form 990 or 990-EZ) for the year in which you changed your name and report the change of name on the paper return.

Any other names your organization uses

If the organization is known by or uses other names to refer to the organization as a whole (and not to its programs and activities), commonly referred to as Doing-Business-As (DBA) names, they should be listed.

Organization’s mailing address

The mailing address is the current mailing address used by the organization. If the organization’s mailing address has changed since it filed its previous return (Form 990 or 990-EZ) or e-Postcard simply enter the new mailing address.

Organization’s website address (if you have one).

Organization’s employer identification number (EIN)

Every tax-exempt organization must have an EIN, sometimes referred to as a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), even if it does not have employees. The EIN is a unique number that identifies the organization to the Internal Revenue Service. Your organization would have acquired an EIN by filing a Form SS-4 prior to requesting tax-exemption.  The EIN is a 9-digit number and the format of the number is NN-NNNNNNN (for example:  00-1234567).

  • If you do not know your EIN, you may be able to find it on the organization’s bank statement, application for Federal tax-exempt status, or prior year return.
  • Please note that the EIN is not yourtax-exempt number.  That term generally refers to a number assigned by a state agency that identifies organizations as exempt from state sales and use taxes.
  • If you do not have an EIN, see theInstructions for Form SS-4 for different ways to apply for an EIN.  DO NOT use the EIN of a parent or other organization.

Name and address of a principal officer of your organization

Usually president, vice president, secretary, or treasurer – often specified in the organization’s bylaws.

Organization’s annual tax year

Like any taxpayer, exempt organizations must keep books and reports and file returns based on an annual accounting period called a tax year.  A tax year is usually 12 consecutive months that can be either calendar year or fiscal year and is often specified in the organization’s bylaws.

Answers to the following questions:

Protect your PTA’s tax-exempt status by filing your Form 990 on time. The IRS has additional information about protecting tax-exempt status, including online training videos.

Protect Your PTA Officers by Incorporating

The Illinois PTA encourages all PTAs to incorporate because incorporation offers additional liability protections for all PTA members. In the event an incorporated PTA is sued, barring willful or wanton conduct, only the PTA, as an entity, with its limited assets, would be subject to lawsuit and/or damages, not the individual members. Liability of the members is limited to the assets of the corporation.

Incorporation is a simple procedure requiring some moderate fees:

  • The Secretary of State’s website, com, has a great deal of information on filing for, maintaining and checking on incorporation. In addition to finding information, downloadable forms and filing fees, the site offers a new real time search of the corporate database. This allows you to check to see that your PTA incorporation is up to date. To contact the office by phone, call (800) 252-8980. When checking for information on filing to become a corporation, be sure to look for the not-for-profit corporate information.
  • Complete two copies of Form NFP-102.10 from the Secretary of State’s Office, Corporation Division and return to the Secretary of State’s office with a certified check, cashier’s check or money order ($50 currently).
  • Common PTA names (e.g., Washington PTA, Lincoln PTA, etc.) should be identified with the PTA District number, Region name and/or town. A search on the website can tell you if the name you are requesting is already being used.
  • A registered agent is required. This individual should be someone who will have a long-term involvement as a member of the PTA. Notification is necessary when there is a change of registered agent. The permanent address for the corporation can be the same address used for the Employer Identification Number (EIN) of the PTA.
  • Within fifteen (15) days after receipt of the certificate of incorporation, it must be filed with the Office of the Recorder of Deeds in the county in which the corporation is located.
  • Annual reports are required to be filed with the Secretary of State before the first day of the corporation’s anniversary month. Failure to file could lead to dissolution of the corporation. The Secretary of State’s office usually sends a reminder to file this report, but it is also available online and a minimal fee is charged to keep the incorporation up to date ($10/year currently).
  • Article I of the PTA’s bylaws must be amended following incorporation to add a new third sentence, “This PTA is incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois.”
  • The office of the Illinois PTA should be notified at (800) 877-9617, providing the corporate 8-digit number.

Questions to Consider When Planning a PTA Fundraiser

As the new school year approaches, many PTAs are planning their budget for the coming year. One part of that budget is fundraising. The National PTA Back-to-School Kit has a list of questions for PTAs to use as guidelines when selecting and planning a fundraising project.

  • Does it adhere to the PTA mission and purpose?
  • Does it conform to the noncommercial, nonsectarian, and nonpartisan policies set forth in the PTA bylaws?
  • Does it refrain from using or exploiting children? Will it create goodwill for the PTA?
  • Is it a type of activity that can serve as a positive example for children and youth? Will it provide the revenue to help meet the PTA’s goals?
  • Did the fundraising committee provide a budget of expenditures (e.g., materials and advertising for the event), as required by the PTA’s bylaws and standing rules?
  • Do the state and local governments require the PTA to collect and remit sales tax? Are special permits, such as special licenses or health permits, required or needed?
  • Is the liability of the PTA and its members protected through sufficient insurance or otherwise?
  • Did the president sign the contracts for vendors or manufacturers? Do the contracts and products cover who is responsible for spoiled or damaged goods? For unclaimed goods?
  • Is the PTA using volunteers, or does it have to pay or contract with workers? (Note that in Illinois, paying workers may be considered working with a professional fundraiser, which can result in the PTA needing to file an AG-990 form with the Illinois Attorney General’s office. Also be aware that once a PTA files an AG-990, it must continue to file annually.)
  • Have procedures been established to safeguard the handling of products and money? What are the costs for using a facility? How long is the event going to be held? Are here special requirements or restrictions for using the facility? Are fire laws and safety precautions strictly observed? Is the facility accessible to people with disabilities?
  • Is it an infrequent or ongoing activity? Be aware that unrelated business activities could result in some federal or state taxation of the income earned or, in the extreme, the loss of your tax-exempt status.
  • Are there local, state, or federal laws that apply? Is care taken to see that no law is violated?


Depending on the PTA and the activity, there may be other questions that need to be addressed. When considering several funding ideas, review this list, as well as other questions and concerns, to determine which fundraising event to choose.

You can find more information on PTA fundraising in the National PTA Back-to-School Kit.

Wrapping Up Your PTA’s Fiscal Year

Many PTAs have their fiscal year ending on June 30th (check your bylaws), which means it’s time to handle all of those end-of-the-year tasks so your PTA is Financial accountingready to start off on the right foot when school starts.

  1. Close your books. Make sure you get those last deposits in and write those last checks before the end of your fiscal year. Send in your last dues payment and any unused PTA membership cards.
  2. Prepare for your audit. Your bylaws spell out how your audit should be conducted. Remember, nobody authorized to sign checks can be on the audit committee, though it is helpful for the treasurer to be accessible to the committee when they are conducting the audit. Make sure the committee has all of the financial records, including treasurer’s reports, the checkbook register, the ledger (or spreadsheet or wherever you record income and expenses against your budget lines), deposit and expense vouchers, copies of meeting minutes, and last year’s audit report.
  3. Conduct your audit. Be sure to have the committee sign off on the audit report form. Your PTA membership will need to vote to accept the audit report at your first meeting prior to adopting your budget.
  4. File your 990 form. Once your audit is done, you have all the information you need to file your Form 990 with the IRS. If your PTA has less than $50,000 in gross income, your PTA can file the online Form 990-N. Be sure to keep a copy of your receipt from the IRS saying that you’ve filed. If your PTA made between $50,000 and $200,000, your PTA needs to file the Form 990-EZ. National PTA has a helpful step-by-step guide to walk you through these two forms. The IRS Charities and Non-Profits page also has useful information.
  5. Register your PTA’s new officers. You can register online, and doing so ensures that your PTA will get the new Local Unit Packet stuffed full of useful information when it comes out later this summer.
  6. Plan next year’s budget. Look at what you spent this year, what programs you plan to retire or introduce, and what changes you plan to make. Consider having a budget line to send someone to the Illinois PTA Convention next spring or to support the Illinois PTA Scholarship Fund with volunteer and other awards. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at our sample budget.
  7. Get trained. Contact your district or region director to find out when training will be available in your area. Be sure to check out National PTA’s E-Learning Library as well.