Groups lose tax status

Published 12:02 am Saturday, August 20, 2011

NATCHEZ — Nearly 70 tax-exempt organizations in the Miss-Lou are probably wishing they’d crossed their T’s and dotted their I’s a little more carefully.

Over the course of June, July and August, the Internal Revenue Service has automatically revoked the tax-exempt statuses of organizations such as Miss-Lou Crimestoppers Inc., the Natchez Business and Civic League and the American Legion posts, according to information provided by IRS Spokeswoman Dee Harris Stepter.

Stepter said tax-exempt status revocations can come about for a number of reasons, but an automatic revocation would only come from an organization failing to complete proper paperwork.

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A myriad of paperwork goes into retaining an exempt status, she said, and leaving out any part of it could result in automatically losing the exempt status, but the recent crack down in policy stems from the Pension Protection Act of 2006.

President George W. Bush signed the Pension Protection Act, and it went into action in 2008.

Prior to 2008, tax-exempt organizations with gross incomes of less than $25,000 were not required to file any sort of annual return, she said, which left the IRS’ records incomplete. This year, the annual income threshold for businesses required to fill out returns increased to $50,000, Stepter said.

“We were not getting any information that said an organization stopped existing or that there was a change in leadership or location,” Stepter said. “(The legislation) increases the amount of information available to the public regarding tax-exempt organizations.”

What this means, she said, is that the legislation also puts an end to for-profit organizations that could be masquerading as non-profit.

The forms the businesses must now fill out contain eight to 10 questions and ask for information like whether the organization is still in existence, current contact information and gross annual income, Stepter said.

Bishop Melvin Jackson, president of the Natchez Business and Civic League, said he was under the impression that all of the necessary forms had been sent in, so it was a surprise to him to hear that their tax-exempt status had been revoked.

However, he said, donations the league receives cannot be deducted on a donor’s taxes at any time, due to the league’s particular non-profit classification.

League members are working to get that changed, though, he added.

For the time being, Jackson said, the league is just working on getting the proper form filled out to reclaim exemption status.

Stepter said the IRS is reinstating tax-exempt statuses based on a first-come, first-served basis, but there is an expedited process if an organization meets certain criteria.

For organizations that accept tax-deductible donations, though, Stepter said, donations didn’t automatically become non-deductible as soon as an exempt status was revoked.

Instead, she said, they would be considered deductible up until the date an organization’s name was posted on the IRS’ website as having had their status revoked.

“New organizations are posted monthly,” Stepter said. “We encourage people to monitor the website, especially if they’re donating to an organization.”

Natchez organizations that recently automatically lost their tax-exempt statuses due to incomplete paperwork are:

  • About Face to Effective Rehab
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
  • American Legion Post 0004
  • Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite
  • Circle K International Inc.
  • Communication Workers of America
  • Delissa Development Corp.
  • Family Enterprises of Miss.
  • Fraternal Order of Police
  • Gold Wing Road Riders Association
  • Great River Foundation Inc.
  • Heavenly Home for Displaced People
  • IP Complany EMP Mutal Benefit Association
  • Kema Inc.
  • Knights Templar of the United Nations
  • Laity for Sound Teaching
  • Lower Woodville Youth Development
  • Mabel H & John F. Chamberlain Foundation
  • Midway School of Cosmetology
  • Missionary School
  • Mississippi Advocacy for Youth Inc.
  • Miss-Lou Crimestoppers Inc.
  • Miss-Lou Mental Health
  • Natchez Art Association Inc.
  • Natchez BMX Track
  • Natchez Bulldog Band Booster
  • Natchez Business and Civic Center
  • Natchez Community Concert
  • Natchez Mentoring Team
  • Natchez Touchdown Club
  • Omega Psi Phi Fraternity
  • Pandella Hunting Club
  • Point Man International Ministries
  • PTA Mississippi Congress
  • Ruritan National Corp
  • Sadie V. Thompson Era Reunion
  • Southend Community Action Program
  • Southwest Mississippi Home Health
  • Stanton Community Development Org.
  • Tango Bayou Retirement Center Inc.
  • Trinity Parents League
  • Worship the Music Foundation

From Ferriday:

  • American Federation of Teachers
  • American Legion Post 148
  • Boys & Girls Club of the Delta Inc.
  • Chess Resource Center
  • Cocodrie Bayou Hunting Club
  • Community Housing Development
  • Gloria’s Teensy Weensy Learning
  • Lake St. John Gas Co. Inc.
  • Louisiana Association of Biology
  • Royal Arch Masons of Louisiana
  • United Fund of Concordia

From Vidalia:

  • Abstinence Committee of Concordia
  • American Legion Post 80
  • Bethel Foundation & Subsidiaries
  • Grambling University National
  • International Association of Lions
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • Louisiana Association of Tax Administrators
  • Louisiana Delta 65 Inc.
  • National Association of Letter Carriers
  • Order of Eastern Star Prince Hall
  • Ruritan National Corp