Keeping the Record Straight—EO Select Check is a Critical Tool for Nonprofits

3/21/2014 Articles

Private foundations and public charities increasingly rely on the Internal Revenue Service’s on-line tool EO Select Check to verify tax exempt status.  EO Select Check allows anyone with Internet access to search all exempt organizations listed with the IRS to find out information about an organization’s tax exemption type (e.g., public charity or private foundation, social welfare organization).  It is a combination of three databases: 

  1. Organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions (Pub. 78 data)
  2. Organizations whose federal tax exemption was automatically revoked for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years
  3. Form 990-N (e-Postcard) filers and filings 

The IRS has announced some minor changes to the tool that are of interest, the most important of which is the addition of a column to show the reinstatement date.  If your organization has recently had its tax-exempt status reinstated, you may want to confirm that the correct information is reflected. 

Sometimes the database has mistakes in it, names have not been updated, or organizations have confusingly similar names.  Organizations that have not looked at their own listing may wish to do so from time to time to ensure that the information shown is accurate in order to avoid donor confusion.

Other changes made by the IRS this week to EO Select Check include:

  • Wording changes throughout the application, most notably changing Tax Deductible Contributions to Tax Deductible Charitable Contribution wherever it appeared
  • Removing federal government from the dropdown list of deductibility status codes and removing its explanation from the help text in the Pub 78 section
  • Adding 00 to the dropdown list of exemption types and adding its explanation to the help text in the revocation section
  • Removing 501(c)(1) (Federal Credit Unions) from the dropdown list of exemption types and removing its explanation from the help text in the revocation section