General and form-related guidelines for 990 electronic filing

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The following links provide information about miscellaneous guidelines that do not refer to specific input screens, as well as information about IRS limitations to the number of characters that can be entered in certain fields. Follow these guidelines to create IRS-acceptable electronic files.

Note: Further information is available at the IRS website at

The IRS's 990 electronic filing program requires a name control field for the exempt organization's name. The calculated value is displayed in the Name control field in Screen ELF. Due to the complicated nature of the name control specifications, UltraTax CS may have an issue correctly calculating the name control field. UltraTax CS provides a field in Screen ELF to override the calculated value, if required.

Refer to Part IV of IRS Publication 4163, Modernized e-File (MeF) Information for Authorized IRS e-file Providers for Business Returns, for detailed information about how the name control field is created.

For an address to be valid for electronic filing, it must include the city, state, and ZIP code. If any of this information is missing, the IRS will reject the return.

You must use the two-digit foreign country code wherever a country name is required on a form.

  • Alpha characters consist of the upper-case letters A through Z. No other characters are allowed in alpha-only fields. Few fields are alpha-only fields.
  • Numeric characters consist of the numbers 0 through 9. These characters are used in all of the numeric information fields.
  • Alphanumeric characters consist of the upper-case letters A through Z and numbers 0 through 9. These characters are allowed in most text fields.
  • Special characters generally include ampersand (&), apostrophe ('), hyphen (-), parentheses [()], and single space. The IRS does not allow certain special characters such as percent (%) and subsection (§), among others.

Note: UltraTax CS strips invalid characters from fields and converts all lower-case characters to upper-case characters in the electronic file.

Attached text is not recognized in the electronic return. Use the statement dialog for the Preparer note explanation field in Screen ELF to enter general information to be included in the electronic tax return.

The IRS allows only specific binary attachments (as a PDF file) to be attached to the electronic file. Refer to IRS Publication 4164 for more information about binary attachments. For information about how to include binary attachments with the electronic file in UltraTax/990, see Attaching Portable Document Format (PDF) documents to the electronic file.

The organization name may contain any alpha characters (A-Z), numeric characters (0-9), and the following symbols: backslash (\), hyphen (-), parentheses [( )], ampersand (&), apostrophe ('), and single spaces.

Note: The organization name may not contain spaces at the beginning or end of the name fields, adjacent spaces anywhere within the name, or any symbols not previously listed.

Related topic: Entering data for 990 electronic returns overview

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