Tuesday, October 19, 2010

HRC's 2010 IRS Filing Open for Inspection But . . .
(What excuses does HRC have for not sharing its tax filing on its site?)

According to federal law, all nonprofits that file IRS 990 reports must make the most current filing available for public inspection on the day the org accepts their accountant's tax report for the last fiscal year.

This year, instead of waiting for certain gay or AIDS orgs to file their IRS 990 forms, then send it to the IRS, and wait for the feds to provide the filing to the GuideStar.org site, I contacted the orgs directly for the filings.

The top executives and financial officers at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and DC's Food & Friends are all familiar with the IRS statutes that require them to promptly comply with written requests for a copy of the newest 990, the day they sign off on the filing.

For the Human Rights Campaign, it is consistent with its filing date. Their IRS 990 filing for 2007 was available on Aug 15, while for 2008 and 2009 the acceptance date was August 13. All were endorsed by the org's treasurer, James Rinefierd.

OTOH, there's also the HRC Foundation's separate IRS filings and the pattern is the same. The 990s for HRCF in 2007, 2008, and 2009, show Rinefierd signed off on the lot.

On Friday I emailed HRC's Rinefierd, along with other senior executives, requesting their 2010 tax report to the IRS. I also had a brief phone with him and he promised to get back to me. Rinefierd didn't, but on Monday a deputy press rep for the org, Paul Guequierre, sent a note asking for my fax number so he could transmit the filing.

Since I don't have a fax machine, I wrote back request that HRC convert the 2010 filing into a PDF, along with the new IRS 990 for the HRC Foundation. Further, I suggested that HRC post the IRS 990s on their site, as GLAAD and Food & Friends have done. So far, no reply from HRC, no filings emailed to me and the 990s are not on their site.

IRS statutes mandate that non-profits must make their 990s available for public inspection and that sharing them on an org's site would meet this legal obligation. It would be very laudable of HRC to not only immediately post their 2010 filing, in addition to the two previous years' filings, but they could go a step further in providing fiscal transparency to the community and make an announcement about the IRS 990 being available.

Did Joe Solmonese and other executives receive raises? How much are they being compensated this year? What was the revenue stream? What were the expense breakdowns by program and function? These, and other questions will be answered when HRC widely shares their latest IRS filings.

HRC should stop dragging its feet on this important matter of transparency and accountability.

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