According to the Internal Revenue Service, more than 3,900 Connecticut nonprofit organizations are at risk of losing their tax-exempt status because they did not file required returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The good news is that a one-time relief program, announced by the IRS July 26, will allow these nonprofits and others on this list, available at http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=225889,00.html , to preserve their status as long as they file returns by Oct. 15.
Since 2006, the IRS says it has sent out over one million letters letting nonprofits know they are at risk, but still, by this year's tax season, many had not filed a return.
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, have been posted. The organizations on the list have return due dates between May 17 and Oct. 15, but the IRS has no record that they filed the required returns for any of the past three years, according to information stated in the official press release.
IRS says if organizations fail to file by the new due date, they will have their tax-exempt status revoked and will have to reapply with the IRS to regain their tax-exempt status. The IRS says it will publish a list of these revoked organizations in early 2011. Donors who contribute to at-risk organizations are protected until the final revocation list is made available. If an organization loses its exemption, any income received between the revocation date and renewed exemption may be taxable.
"Several years ago, the IRS adopted regular reporting requirements for all nonprofits regardless of size," said Ron Cretaro, executive director of the Connecticut Nonprofit Association. "Prior to that, there had been no requirements for those organizations with annual gross expenditures of $25,000 or less. We feel it is a best practice for nonprofits to be transparent and accountable to their communities."
Cretaro explained that many smaller nonprofits have no paid staff and a frequently changing cast of officers and volunteers responsible for administrative and fundraising functions. Officers on boards of directors, staff, office locations and mailing addresses have changed over the years and many organizations have inadvertently forgotten to notify the IRS of these changes, he said. "Failing to do so has resulted in unfortunate situations for nonprofits, those they serve and the public trust bestowed upon them. Those nonprofits with the privilege of tax exemption have a special responsibility to serve the 'public good.' Meeting the expectation of the public good necessitates being a good citizen and complying with legal demands."
Cretaro notes that the IRS "has been exceedingly flexible and generous with its willingness to extend the time frame for nonprofits to comply with this requisite reporting procedure."
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Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas announced a total of $26,000 to support middle school literacy programs in Waterbury and Danbury, and professional development for Hispanic engineers across the state.
A total of $20,000 will fund after-school literacy programs at ASPIRA of Connecticut, the local branch of a national organization dedicated to helping Hispanic students succeed in school, develop their leadership skills and serve their communities. Locally, 80 percent of the students who graduate from ASPIRA's youth development program enroll in college.
The remaining $6,000 will help the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers reach out to community colleges, update its website, support its high school mentoring programs, develop a speaker series geared toward professionals and college chapters in Connecticut and conduct a one-day professional development conference.
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Aetna has awarded $75,000 to a former Georgia juvenile court judge's ParentPowerNow! anti-obesity program. It will also provide content for the program's website, guest speakers to address healthy living on Judge Glenda Hatchett's live website radio program and support for health events scheduled around the country.
One component of the initiative is the Fit Family Fun Fest, which launches Aug. 7, and continues through the school year. The website will encourage online participants to set health goals for themselves and will feature health tips, health links, interactive exercise and diet diaries starting with a family five-minute morning movement session.
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Price Chopper Supermarkets is partnering with the Salvation Army for a school supply drive providing materials and other needed resources for children during the back-to-school season.
The drive, which runs from Aug. 1 through Sept. 18, marks the second year Price Chopper has led this effort. The supply drive is part of a larger effort by Price Chopper to help local schools facing budget cuts and other cutbacks due to the state of the economy.
Shoppers buying school supplies at any of Price Chopper 's128 locations may drop them into the specially-designed cart at the front of each store. The donated items go to the local children and families that need them. The Salvation Army will distribute the supplies.
Joanna Smiley writes the weekly Nonprofit Notebook column. Reach her at jsmiley@HartfordBusiness.com