logoBefore you make a tax-deductible gift to your favorite charity, make sure it's still a charity.  The Internal Revenue Service has announced that about 275,000 organizations have automatically lost their tax-exempt status because they did not file legally required annual reports for three consecutive years.

Consumer protection officials around the country have been warning consumers that contributions to these organizations will no longer be deductible and taxpayers could face penalties if they mistakenly claim deductions.

“Ohioans are very generous and support a wide variety of charitable organizations and causes,” said Ohio Attorney General DeWine. “It is important that Ohio charitable donors check if a non-profit has lost its tax-exempt status to know for sure if their gift will be tax deductible or not.”

The IRS said it believes the vast majority of these organizations are defunct, but it also announced special steps to help any existing organizations to apply for reinstatement of their tax-exempt status.

Congress passed the Pension Protection Act (PPA) in 2006, requiring most tax-exempt organizations to file an annual information return or notice with the IRS. For small organizations, the law imposed a filing requirement for the first time in 2007. In addition, the law automatically revokes the tax-exempt status of any organization that does not file required returns or notices for three consecutive years.

For several years, the IRS has made an extensive effort to inform organizations of the changes in the law through multiple outreach and education avenues, including mailing more than 1 million notices to organizations that had not filed.

In addition, last year the IRS published a list of at-risk groups and gave smaller organizations an additional five months to file required notices and come into compliance. About 50,000 organizations filed during this extension period.

Most are in compliance

Overall, the IRS believes the vast majority of small tax-exempt organizations are now in compliance with the 2006 law.

“During the past several years, the IRS has gone the extra mile to help make tax-exempt groups aware of their legal filing requirement and allow them additional time to file,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “Still, we realize there may be some legitimate organizations, especially very small ones, that were unaware of their new filing requirement. We are taking additional steps for these groups to maintain their tax-exempt status without jeopardizing their operations or harming their donors.”

The list of organizations whose tax-exempt status has been revoked for failing to meet their filing requirement, available on the IRS website at www.IRS.gov, includes each organization’s name, Employer Identification Number (EIN) and last known address. It is searchable by state. It also includes the effective date of the automatic revocation and the date it was posted to the list. The IRS will update the list monthly to include additional organizations that lose their tax-exempt status.

This listing should have little, if any, impact on donors who previously made deductible contributions to auto-revoked organizations because donations made prior to the publication of an organization’s name on the list remain tax-deductible. Going forward, however, organizations that are on the auto-revocation list that do not receive reinstatement are no longer eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, and any income they receive may be taxable.