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Eagle Icon Reports of Exempt Organizations Eagle Icon

About This Service

1. What's In the IRS Database

The Internal Revenue Service requires all tax-exempt organizations to file an annual Form 990, “Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax.” The form details the revenues and expenses, assets and liabilities, and a wealth of information, such as the compensation of executives, any unrelated business income, whether the organization engages in lobbying activities, and the stated accomplishments of the organization.

The purpose of these filings is two-fold:

Filings for nonprofit corporations are like the Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR database: these public filings allow the public to understand how the market for nonprofit services functions and makes it work more effectively. The nonprofit sector is a key part of the United States economy. The Urban Institute reports 1.5 million tax exempt organizations with 2009 revenues of $1.87 trillion and $4.3 trillion in assets. Nonprofits account for 9.2% of all wages and salaries paid in the United States.

There are five kinds of Form 990 returns:

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2. What Format We Get The Data In

The I.R.S. sells nonprofit filings as a monthly service. Each month since January 2002, we receive a set of DVDs for Exempt Organizations and another set for Private Foundations. Starting in 2009, we receive a monthly set of Form 990T. Each DVD has approximately 60,000 1-page TIFF images on it. The last DVD for the month contains a "DAT" file which explains which TIFF files go with which returns.
[ sample DAT file: irs.2012_09_T.dat.txt ]

The DAT file contains metadata, including:

The return types include 990 (for a return filed under subsection 3 of the code), 990EZ for an EZ form, 990O for a filing not under subsection 3 of the code, 990PF for a private foundation, 990T for unrelated business income. Additionally, if the form was rescanned an R is appended and if this is an amended return, an A will be amended. For example, a 990PA is an amended 990PF and a 990PR is a rescanned 990PF.

Public.Resource.Org would like to extend our thanks to the Exempt Organizations (EO) and Statistics of Income (SOI) for their considerable assistance in explaining the data formats and procedures and for their responsive customer service in addressing errors we encountered during processing.

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3. What We Do With The Data

Our goal is to turn the sets of TIFF files into PDF documents with proper metadata. We go through several steps to process this information:

The manifest file we generate contains the following pieces of information:

We did not carry over zip code, state, or section of the code from the DAT file, but it should be a straightforward exercise for developers to retrieve that information. If we add that information back in, it will be at the end of the manifest lines.

We are aware of two monthly sets with substantial errors due to defective DVDs: March 2005 Exempt Organizations and May 2003 Exempt Organizations.

In addition, be aware that any Form 990 that was filed electronically (“e-filed”) in 2007, 2008, or 2009 may have a series of processing errors. These areas include:

More information on these errors may be found on this posting from the Foundation Center.

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4. What You Can Do With The Data

This service is intended to be a bulk data “loading dock” and is NOT intended as a general-purpose search facility for this data. Instead, we hope that this data will be used by developers to build new services.

If you are an end user, we recommend services such as GuideStar. You are of course welcome to browse the directories we provide, and after search engines such as Google index the data, you will be able to search the returns.

If you are a developer, please note that we support https, FTP, and RSYNC as access protocols for the data. The ./raw directory contains the TIFF images we receive from the IRS, or you can take the PDF files that we generate. In addition, if all you want is the metadata, you can download manifests.tgz (566M), which contains all the metadata.

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5. What Needs To Happen Next

There are three substantial issues with the exempt organization database that need to be addressed:

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