Historically, information about tax‐exempt organizations has often been hard to obtain. The 1996 tax act requires a tax‐exempt organization to provide a copy of its informational Form 990 to anyone who requests it and specifies penalties for noncompliance. Form 990 information on most tax‐exempt organizations is also being made available in digitized form. The ready availability of such financial information will subject nonprofit reporting to greater scrutiny than ever before. Accountants need to be aware that preparer error rates may become public information. This paper describes recent developments that are making Form 990 data available to researchers and the general public. It then discusses potential uses for the data as well as limitations of the data, and considers possible implications for nonprofit managers, donors and accounting firms.

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