IRS Releases Computer-Readable 990s of Nine Nonprofits

The Internal Revenue Service has turned over the tax forms of nine nonprofit organizations in a format that computers can read, resolving a court battle waged by open-records activist Carl Malamud, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

The IRS had been ordered by a federal judge in January to release the Form 990s within sixty days, but the agency appealed the ruling in March. On Friday, however, the Justice Department, which represents the IRS, sent the documents to Malamud and informed the court it was dropping the appeal.

Currently, the IRS strips nonprofit tax filings of confidential information and converts them to image files — even if the forms have been filed electronically. Malamud aims to get the IRS to make all Form 990s that are filed electronically available in machine-readable format, making it easier for individuals to digitally search the forms for information about an organization's finances, trustees, lobbying activities, and salaries.

"My first hope is that we simply talk about it with the IRS," Malamud told the Chronicle, "and they say, 'Gee, okay, it's an important thing getting a database out the door.'"

Suzanne Perry. "IRS Releases Tax Forms of 9 Nonprofits in Computer-Readable Format." Chronicle of Philanthropy 06/08/2015.