Does a nonprofit organization that has never filed for tax exemption at the federal or state levels have to provide its tax returns to the public upon request? If so, what is the legal citation/authority for this? Would they file something other than a Form 990, like a typical for-profit corporate tax return that is not public?
The requirement to disclose federal tax return forms to the public applies to organizations that are exempt from federal income tax, and there are some nonprofits that either do not qualify for exemption or have not claimed to be exempt. (See Ready Reference Page: “What Do We Mean When We Say Nonprofit?”) A nonprofit that is not exempt would not be required to disclose its tax returns to the public. Ordinarily it would file a Form 1120 return for a taxable corporation, even though it is nonprofit. These are not available to the public.