A Blue Avocado Reader OpEd: The new 990 Online software comes out next week on July 20, 2009. This release will help as we face the challenges of filing the redesigned IRS Form 990 (for fiscal years starting in 2008). But 990 Online needs better support to make it the resource we need it to be. Reader Dennis Walsh discusses the software development issue and points to the modest investment that would ease the implementation burden for hundreds of thousands of nonprofits nationwide.
When my wife Debbie was executive director of a North Carolina senior center, she remembers "plowing through the 990 paper forms and instructions, trying to figure out what went where. We couldn't afford to hire a preparer and even though we had a CPA on the board, he didn't provide any help. I wondered if I could go to jail if I did this wrong!"
Sadly, this experience is mirrored in many community nonprofits.
The IRS estimates that it would take a novice preparer 158 hours to learn the regulations and complete the new Form 990: equivalent to dedicating a full-time employee to this task for a month.It's likely that by 2010 more than 300,000 small nonprofits will have to struggle . . .