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Correcting Common Form 990 Errors: Identifying Audit Triggers and Remedying Prior Year Filings

Penalty Abatements, Fixing Prohibited Transactions, Reconciling Related Organization Transaction Errors

Note: CLE credit is not offered on this program

Recording of a 110-minute CPE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This course will provide advisers to nonprofit and exempt organizations with a practical guide to identifying, avoiding, and correcting the most common and complex errors in completing Form 990 and Form 990-PF. The panel will focus on the mechanics of tax reporting, offer concrete examples of corrective entries for prior year errors, discuss recent IRS guidance on Form 990 filing deficiencies, and detail obtaining relief from IRS sanctions.


Form 990 Return of an Organization Exempt From Income Tax is a complex exercise in tax reporting, and the IRS consistently reports several common reporting errors. Mistakes include potentially serious omissions leading to significant tax and operational consequences. Because an exempt organization's Form 990 filings are public records, even inadvertent errors may harm a nonprofit's reputation and jeopardize its exempt status.

Aside from basic mistakes such as failure to sign or complete an information section, common and potentially serious errors in Form 990 returns involve misstatements of revenues and expenses, transactions with interested persons, prohibited transactions, and UBTI calculations. Even basic Form 990 errors such as an incomplete or unsigned return, can trigger an IRS tax audit. In instances involving private foundations, common Form 990-PF errors can lead to significant sanctions for the officers of the foundation.

Other errors that serve as audit triggers include failure to report required information regarding related organizations, joint activities, or foreign activities. Tax advisers serving exempt organizations must identify errors in current and prior years' returns to avoid costly tax consequences and damage to a nonprofit entity's reputation.

Listen as our experienced panel provides a thorough and practical guide to avoiding, identifying, and correcting both common and complex errors in Form 990 preparation and filing.



  1. Administrative or "housekeeping" errors that present audit risks for exempt organizations
  2. Recognizing substantive Form 990 errors
  3. Repairing errors in prior year filings
  4. Common errors specific to private foundations


The panel will discuss these and other important topics:

  • What errors on Form 990 filings are IRS audit triggers?
  • What must tax advisers to exempt organizations be mindful of concerning related organizations in reviewing prior years Form 990 returns?
  • Requesting penalty abatements for incomplete or incorrect filings
  • Remedying excess benefit transactions and prohibited transactions with interested persons


Czerniawski, Magdalena
Magdalena M. Czerniawski, CPA, MBA

Managing Director
CBIZ Marks Paneth

Ms. Czerniawski is a member of the firm’s Nonprofit, Government & Healthcare Group. With over 15 years of...  |  Read More

Lyons, Robert
Robert Lyons, CPA, MST

Tax Director
Marks Paneth

Mr. Lyons is a Tax Director, Exempt Organizations in the Nonprofit, Government & Healthcare Group at Marks Paneth...  |  Read More

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