Nonprofit GPS

Your Personal Navigation System Through Not-for-Profit Accounting Issues

Form 990 Signature Block

One of the most common questions I get is “who should sign my 990?” According to the instructions:

  • The return must be signed by the current president, vice president, treasurer, assistant treasurer, chief accounting officer, or other corporate officer (such as tax officer) who is authorized to sign as of the date this return is filed.”
  • It is important to note that it says CURRENT officer, so you do not need to go back and find your treasurer from last year who moved to Alaska.

This can be an issue because it is important that the proper person (someone who is currently in an executive position) takes the responsibility for the information in the return.  It is also important to keep in mind that regardless of who signs the return, it is ultimately the responsibility of the entire board to know what is in the return and that the information is correct. While the top management executives are potentially liable, the board of directors is legally charged with governance and cannot point to the fact that the CEO/Executive Director signed the return, so they didn’t worry about it. For this reason, we strongly suggest that a committee of the board be responsible for at least reviewing the return prior to filing, and that a copy of the return at least be provided to ALL board members for their information. I know that the majority may not actually read the return, but if you send them an electronic copy, they at least have the chance.

Katie L. Thomas, CPA

Comments

  1. mohamed ahmed says:

    A board member who filed the tax return put someone else as the executive director and also forged his signature on the tax return. He also stated on the tax return that the unknown executive director received $12,000.00 when in reality the one who forged the signature received that money. What can we as the board of trustees and directors do and what can we expect when we report this to the IRS?
    Thank You

    • admin says:

      Mohamed –

      Thank you for your question. It sounds like your issues are more legal in nature (versus accounting or audit related), so I would recommend you speak to an attorney who has expertise with nonprofit organizations.

      Colette Kamps, CPA