Today, residents of the Portland Hotel in Vancouver are marching to Deloitte offices to speak […]
Religious groups are starting to catch wind of a new tax quietly imposed by Republicans […]
I would expect more and more items like these in the news in the months and years ahead but that’s just my humble opinion.
Apparently commissioners in Lawrence Park Township, Pennsylvania are sick of messing around and would like an Erie County judge to appoint a custodian to handle the volunteer Lawrence Park Fire Department. On Friday, the township filed a petition, after a July 12th vote of 3-2 to go to court.
The three commissioners are claiming the Fire Department is violating a township ordinance by not providing an accounting of how the department is spending township money. The commissioners are arguing a custodian should be in place long enough to bring the department in compliance with the law.
The commissioners and the Fire Department have been feuding over the department’s finances since 2009. The firefighters have said the department is fiscally sound.
The funny part of all this is that the fire department claimed part of the reason why their finances were so jacked up was the Form 990 they “never knew existed” according to department president Maureen Crotty. Apparently the township commissioners felt the lack of a 990 (which reveals any non-profit organization’s expenses and revenues and is required for all non-profits above $250,000) was one of many good reasons not to give the department more money.
So back in April, almost a year after the IRS said all required 990s better be in or else, the fire department was still waiting to get a completed 990 back from its newly hired accountant, who didn’t have time to fill out the simple form while also auditing the department’s financial records by request of the stingy township commissioners.
Back then, Crotty stated she hoped the finished 990 and audit would help repair the strained relationship between the fire department and the five-member board of commissioners. Guess that didn’t happen.
Welcome back, Joe.
Remember the IRS’ failed outreach to small nonprofits back in the spring? Yeah, the May 17th deadline threw a lot small NFPs for a loop and they up and missed the filing deadline completely.
IRS Commish Doug Shulman figured that, despite the unprecedented outreach, the whole snafu was his bad and that nonprofits shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about missing the deadline, the Service will still take your 990, tardiness notwithstanding.
But that can’t go on forever now, can it? Accordingly, the IRS set a new deadline today to file the 990s and it’s set for a much more memorable October 15th.
WASHINGTON — Small nonprofit organizations at risk of losing their tax-exempt status because they failed to file required returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 can preserve their status by filing returns by Oct. 15, 2010, under a one-time relief program, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.
The IRS today posted on a special page of IRS.gov the names and last-known addresses of these at-risk organizations, along with guidance about how to come back into compliance. The organizations on the list have return due dates between May 17 and Oct. 15, 2010, but the IRS has no record that they filed the required returns for any of the past three years.
“We are doing everything we can to help organizations comply with the law and keep their valuable tax exemption,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “So if you do not have your filings up to date, now’s the time to take action and get back on track.”
It’s simple people. If your gross receipts are under $25,000, get yourself a 990-N (e-Postcard), fill it out and you’re done. If you have receipts up to $500k, you’ll have to fill out either Form 990 or 990-EZ which will probably take you all of 15 minutes.
Get it? No more blowing this off. OCTOBER 15TH is the drop dead date. After that, Shulman & Co. will be busting down the doors to inform you that you’re no longer tax exempt. And trust us, you don’t want to deal with that.
Representative Betty McCollum is upset that small businesses have the Small Business Administration but nonprofits don’t get a Nonprofit Administration to evaluate, build and monitor the capacity of America’s vital nonprofits. She believes nonprofits are an invisible but vital part to the economy and overlooked by Washington, DC except when it comes to tax issues.
This legislation represents a significant step toward creating a more effective partnership between the federal government and the nonprofit sector. H.R. 5533 establishes a new United States Council on the Nonprofit Sector. The Council will be a forum for leaders of nonprofits, foundations, businesses and government to discuss strategies for strengthening the nonprofit sector. The bill also creates an Inter-agency Working Group on the Nonprofit Sector. This group will ensure that high-level representatives from cabinet agencies and other key agencies coordinate and improve federal policies pertaining to nonprofit organizations. Finally, the legislation directs Federal agencies to collect and publish better data on nonprofits AND to support research that will lead to smarter Federal policy.
The goals of the Nonprofit Sector and Community Solutions Act are to build a stronger nonprofit sector, craft smarter federal policy, and create more vibrant communities in every state across the country.
Listen, we love working groups as much as the next cube-dweller but haven’t yet seen a copy of the Bill so can’t say either way at this point. What we do know is that the nonprofit sector is large enough to be in need of some help beyond whatever pestering they get from our friends at the IRS.
According to a 2009 Congressional Research Service report, nonprofits (mostly charities) make up over 5% of U.S. GDP. Charitable organizations are estimated to employ more than 7% of the U.S. workforce, while the broader nonprofit sector is estimated to employ 10% of the U.S. workforce. In 2009, nonprofits filing form 990s with the IRS reported approximately $1.4 billion in revenue and nearly $2.6 billion in assets.
Those numbers do not include the estimated 215,000 charities who have neglected (or completely blown off) their 990 responsibilities.
It’s difficult to find numbers that don’t contradict each other, some reports say nonprofits are doing better than expected in this uncertain economic environment while others insist it’s still rough out there, especially for organizations that rely on donations to get by. For nonprofits, it doesn’t matter how the year is going, it may soon cost more to send out those pleading donation mailers.
The Postal Regulatory Commission is looking at a 2 cent increase for first class mail, an 8% increase for periodicals (just what the doctor ordered for struggling print publications) and a 23% increase on parcels. While they have not specifically mentioned an increase in nonprofit mailer pricing, the PRC has already identified certain “underwater” mail classes, non-profit mail being one such case.
As is, authorized nonprofits get a price break of about 40% over commercial mail prices so you could see why a struggling USPS might go straight for non-profits when looking for additional revenue sources to close its $7 billion budget gap.
Overall, postal prices are expected to rise 4 – 5%, a huge jump from the legally allowed .6% the Postal Service can use to adjust for inflation. Seeing as how we supposedly haven’t experienced any inflation this year, the jump is that much more disheartening to mass mailers.
Not surprisingly, there’s a nonprofit set up to focus on postal issues around nonprofit mail and they’re all over it. Said Tony Cooper of the Washington-based Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, the USPS delivery system “is a system that’s built to handle about 300 billion pieces of mail, and they’ve got about 170 billion, and it’s set to decrease. It’s basically twice as big as it needs to be. It’s that excess capacity and costs that are creating the need in their minds to do this.” Hear that, USPS? Cut the fat before you start going after the little guys.
The bill is inspired by a Supreme Court decision that overturned a cap on corporate contributions to political campaigns. So to compromise and soften the hard-ass bill a little bit, they threw in an exemption for certain non-profits that meet specific requirements.
They must have more than 1 million members, be at least 10 years old and receive no more than 15% of their contributions from corporations to receive this exemption. OK, how many non-profits could that be?
Reform at its finest, I guess.
Just a note, Charity Navigator doesn’t do the NRA for the following reason:
We don’t evaluate National Rifle Association.
Why not? We don’t evaluate 501(c)(4) organizations because they are allowed to spend a substantial portion of their revenue on lobbying our government and not every donation to them is tax-deductible. You may be interested in our evaluation for The NRA Foundation.
If you’re curious, “DISCLOSE” stands for Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections and I don’t think light is what we need in this situation. Companies, unions and other groups that spend more than $10,000 would be required to disclose donors who have given $1000 or more.
Why does this matter? Should lobbying groups really receive any tax deductions at all?
Administrative expenses are a part of any non-profit’s overall operating expenses and though donors generally give to charity with the hope that their contributions will help fulfill the organization’s mission as opposed to cover SG&A, Charity Navigator has a top ten of the worst offenders when it comes to admin expenses. Let’s take a look, shall we?
10: Center for Individual Rights 46.1%
9: Changed Lives 47.4%
8: Vision New England 48.7%
7: Charleston Area Medical Center Foundation 48.8%
6: National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame 55.1%
5: Cherokee National Historical Society 58.2%
4: Union Rescue Mission Little Rock 62.1%
3: National Council of Negro Women 64%
2: Boys Choir of Harlem 66.3%
1: American Tract Society 68%
For its last available income statement through Charity Navigator, the American Tract Society brought in $2,194,730 and spent $1,615,847 on administrative expenses, compared to $711,854 in program expenses and $47,210 in fundraising expenses. This is twice what the charity spent the year previous on admin expenses.
The American Tract Society’s mission is to distribute religious literature to spread its message. Well actually its mission is officially “to make Jesus Christ known in His redeeming grace and to promote the interests of vital godliness and sound morality, by the circulation of Religious Tracts, calculated to receive the approbation of all Evangelical Christians. The mission of ATS is to provide relevant tools for presenting the gospel.”
Perhaps someone needs to say a prayer to St Matthew asking for a little accounting help.
By comparison, similar charity Bibles for the World, based in Colorado, spent only 6.4% of its $4,215,202 in revenue on administrative expenses in the same period.
The second worst offenders on the list, the Boys Choir of Harlem, spent $140,787 out of $299,729 in total revenue on administrative expenses in 2007. At that point, the charity was nearly $4 million in the red and has since ended. The group spent 30 years bringing the joy of music to at-risk inner-city youth and the choir had performed for sitting presidents since Lyndon Johnson.
Would-be donors are welcome to peruse Charity Navigator for detailed information on just about every charity in the country before making donations, lest that $100 feel good gift end up paying mostly for secretaries and prime office space.
The Minneapolis Foundation, the Minnesota Medical Foundation, the Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children and the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance Association have won $29.9 million from Wells Fargo in a Minnesota case that alleged investment fraud and breach of fiduciary duty based on investments the non-profits made that were deemed safe by Wells Fargo.
While similar cases against banks have mostly been settled out of court, this is the first time one such case has gone to trial.
Though the non-profits lost $14.1 million to these shoddy investments, Wells Fargo attorney Robert Weinstine blamed it on the financial crisis and insisted it was not Wells’ fault that funds were lost. The 10-member jury felt otherwise based on internal memos, e-mails and handwritten notes admitted as evidence in the trial.
The jury determined last Thursday that the bank would not be subject to additional payments for punitive damages. Attorney for the four non-profits Mike Ciresi had requested $100 million. Mathlete and Wells Fargo attorney Larry Hofmann told jurors that “zero is the correct number here” in terms of punies.
The Internal Revenue Service recently released some information to help companies take advantage of a tax credit provided by the health reform law.
The IRS estimates that about 4 million businesses qualify, and is sending out notices to as many as possible advising them of the tax break. If you haven’t received anything but believe your company may qualify, here’s what you should know:
The credit is available to companies with fewer than 25 employees with average wages of $50,000 or less. The full credit goes to companies with 10 or fewer employees and average annual wages of $25,000 or less. It is not available to self-employed individuals.
The credit covers 35 percent of an employer’s contribution to employee health premiums, so long as that doesn’t exceed 35 percent of the average cost of a health plan in the small group market. For a tax-exempt organization, the credit is 25 percent. Once the health exchanges are set up, the credit increases to 50 percent for businesses and 35 percent for nonprofits. At that time, the credit will only be available to companies purchasing insurance through the exchange.
A company can use the credit to reduce income tax owed and can carry the credit forward 20 years or back one year after 2010. Nonprofits can use the credit against withholding and Medicare taxes owed on behalf of their employees.
A key caveat is that employers must pay for half of the premium. For most workers, especially low-wage employees, a company that does not pay for at least half the premium is offering insurance that is essentially unaffordable. Even 50 percent is most likely not enough to do low-wage workers much good, especially at small companies where health care premiums are more expensive.
The amount of the credit is based on the premiums an employer pays for, so the more generous the coverage, the greater the credit. While premiums paid for owners and their families cannot be counted, those paid for seasonal workers can be. And the IRS has defined “premiums” broadly: not only does it cover premiums for standard medical insurance but it also applies to dental, long-term care and vision insurance-though again, an employer must pay 50 percent of each premium to count it toward the credit.
Calculating the credit probably requires any small employer to consult an accountant to see if the benefits are worth the cost of providing insurance. The tax credit is in effect, allowing employers who are already thinking about health insurance for their employees to factor in the savings as they plan ahead.
As an observer, I think the key issue is whether the credit is enough to offset the rising cost of health insurance. Those costs have hit small employers the hardest. We’ll see if the tax credit makes a difference in reversing the trend among small employers of dropping health insurance for their employees altogether.
The Head Start Program, under the Department of Health and Human Services, provides child development services to mostly low-income families and their children. Up to 10% of Head Start-enrolled families can be over-income, with an income 130% above the poverty line.
Of course, things don’t always work out as they are supposed to and the GAO has discovered problems with about half of the centers it examined through the investigation, just a small sample of the 1,600 nonprofit centers running 3,000 Head Start programs.
GAO received allegations of fraud and abuse involving two Head Start nonprofit grantees in the Midwest and Texas. Allegations include manipulating recorded income to make over-income applicants appear under-income, encouraging families to report that they were homeless when they were not, enrolling more than 10 percent of over-income children, and counting children as enrolled in more than one center at a time. GAO confirmed that one grantee operated several centers with more than 10 percent over-income students, and the other grantee manipulated enrollment data to over-report the number of children enrolled. GAO is still investigating the other allegations reported. Realizing that these fraud schemes could be perpetrated at other Head Start programs, GAO attempted to register fictitious children as part of 15 undercover test scenarios at centers in six states and the District of Columbia. In 8 instances staff at these centers fraudulently misrepresented information, including disregarding part of the families’ income to register over-income children into under-income slots. The undercover tests revealed that 7 Head Start employees lied about applicants’ employment status or misrepresented their earnings.
GAO managing director for special investigations Gregory Kutz told a House education committee last month that “the system is vulnerable to fraud.” No kidding.
While unable to determine the motivation of Head Start employees to commit fraud by adjusting income levels on applications, Kutz theorized that management of nonprofit agencies receiving Head Start funds pressured staff to fudge, fiddle with, or straight up fake figures on applications in order to keep federal funds coming in.
Head Start has served over 25 million children since 1965 and there are currently over 1 million children enrolled in Head Start programs.