As most of you are aware, the IRS shutdown its website for filing Form 990 electronically from January 1, 2012 through March 1, 2012. If your 990 was due to be electronically filed during this period, they asked that you not file your return until March 1, 2012 when the website was back up and running. As a result, the IRS granted an automatic extension for filing Form 990 until March 30, 2012. While they granted an automatic extension, they also mentioned that they would not be able to stop late filing notices from going out even though they granted an extension of time to file.
In recent days, many nonprofits have received a penalty notice stating that their 990 was filed late. These notices are a direct result of the website being down. As promised by the IRS, they have not stopped the late notices from happening.
What should you do once you receive this notice? The instructions from the IRS state that you can call them at the number shown in the top right hand corner of the notice and reference Notice 2012-4 and the Reasonable Cause Statement below. Or you can send the IRS a signed detailed letter of explanation outlining the “reasonable cause” circumstances which resulted in not filing your return timely. Specifically, in earlier communications, they suggested the following wording:
Reasonable Cause Statement
This return was filed between March 1, 2012, and March 30, 2012, as directed by the IRS in Notice 2012-4, because electronic filing was not available January 1, 2012 through February 29, 2012. We request that penalties be waived because it would be inequitable to impose a penalty on us due to the unusual circumstances requiring us to delay the filing of this return.
Your signed letter of explanation, along with the voucher on the last page of the IRS notice, should be sent to: Internal Revenue Service, P. O. Box 9941, Odgen, UT 84409
Please be sure to send all communications with the IRS via certified return receipt mail so you have proof it was sent and received.