IRS revoked 501(c)3 status from DeKalb Firefighters Historical Foundation 2+ years ago

As part of staff reports during Monday’s regular city council meeting, the mayor read a statement from Todd Stoffa, a captain with the fire department who is also president of the DeKalb Firefighters Historical Foundation.

On behalf of DeKalb Firefighters Historical Foundation, I would like to express my sincere apologies for the mishap that led to the email and Facebook questions that were raised this past week regarding our 501(c)3 status. We were unaware of the issue until it was brought to our attention. We have been advised by our accountant that we were one of 22,000 small groups that were inadvertently and mistakenly dropped by the IRS due to a paperwork issue. We’ve already met with our accountant, and submitted all of the necessary documentation, to be reinstated as a valid 501(c)3 organization.

Yeah, the Facebook stuff was me. I made the issue public two Sundays ago when I discovered that the foundation is continuing to fundraise despite revocation of tax-exempt status.

They did so last year, too, and I did not want to see it repeated. In fact, the publicity for the Fall 2016 pancake breakfast advertised pricey tax-deductible sponsorships.

The IRS revoked the DeKalb Firefighters Historical Foundation’s 501(c)3 status more than two years ago. It was an automatic revocation that occurs when an organization fails to file a return or notice for three consecutive years. The foundation was incorporated September 6, 2012. The revocation occurred right on schedule, in May 2015, and the public posting date of the revocation was October 2015.

The IRS sends a letter upon such a revocation. If this one was made in error, why didn’t the foundation take steps to reinstate tax-exempt status when first notified two-plus years ago?

To be clear, I also brought up the matter when I discovered it in December 2016. I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request that not only asked for documentation (the HQ of the foundation is officially the location of Fire Station One) but also outlined my concerns — and I cc’d the fire chief on that request. I left a message on the foundation’s Facebook page around the same time.

Nobody seemed to be getting through, hence the more public approach this pancake around.