In reviewing Form 990 tax information returns for nonprofit organizations, one of the most consistent areas of error seems to be reporting income from special events. Very seldom do you feel that things are listed correctly. And the benefit of accurately reporting a spectacularly successful event can be totally lost. Ask the accountants why the return is not correctly filled out and you often get the answer that the client hasn’t given them the proper information.
Special event reporting is important because the Form 990 has special lines on the Part VIII Revenue Statement to report fundraising events. (Similar lines exist on the Form 990-EZ for smaller organizations.) Charities do not want their volunteers and donors to think that their efforts for the annual fundraising gala didn’t produce any benefit for the organization. And yet, a poorly prepared return can do just that. It is another reminder that the Form 990 is an important public relations document.