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Many Radio Clubs Could Lose Tax-Exempt Status in 2010


Changes made three years ago to the federal tax laws could cause many radio clubs to lose their tax-exempt status this year. Clubs that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code must file the required IRS annual returns or reports before the deadline, which is May 15 for those with calendar years.

“Many clubs have, at some time in the past, applied for tax-exempt status as charitable organizations under Section 501(c)(3), as civic leagues under Section 501(c)(4) or as recreational clubs using Section 501(c)(7),” said ARRL Southwestern Division Director Marty Woll, N6VI. “Years ago, any club with gross receipts averaging less than $25,000 per year was not required to file annual returns with the IRS; however, after 2006, such clubs had to file a Form 990-N, a simple ‘electronic postcard’ with minimal information, by the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of each fiscal year. Some clubs may not have been aware of this new requirement or didn’t bother to comply. Even those that filed in a prior year may have neglected to keep up with the required filings as officers changed from year to year.”

Section 6033(j) of the Code provides that failure to file Form 990, 990-EZ or 990-N for three consecutive years results in revocation of tax-exempt status as of the filing due date for the third return. That filing date for calendar year 2009 is less than two weeks away. “If you are a club officer and are uncertain who is responsible for IRS filings, or whether such filings are current, you should determine your fling status as soon as possible and take immediate steps to file the current and any missed prior-year IRS forms,” Woll explained. “Going forward, your club’s board should assign the responsibility for compliance filings with a designated officer and document that responsibility in the written ‘job description’ for the position so that subsequent holders of the office are made aware of the requirements. If you have questions about your club’s status, you may wish to consult a CPA or other tax advisor.”




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