Thursday, September 20, 2018
Business

Federal report says IRS could do more to regulate charities

The IRS doesn't have the manpower to go after charities that flout the law, and it could do more to help state regulators target crooked operators, according to a federal watchdog report made public today.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office also flagged the revenue service for failing to track how well its charity regulators are doing their jobs.

"Clearly the IRS is failing to ensure charitable groups fully comply with the law, or even meet the minimum standards for receiving such preferential tax status," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., wrote last year in a letter requesting the review.

Coburn made the request in response to an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting that showed lax regulation has allowed the same charities to spend virtually nothing on the needy for years.

The 66-page report focused on the tax-exempt organizations division of the IRS, where staffing has shrunk in the face of repeated budget cuts — and where regulators are bracing for still more cuts written into a federal budget bill that passed Congress last week.

"I think that the IRS in the tax-exempt area has some talented people, but they're clearly spread way too thin," said Jack Siegel, a Chicago attorney who runs a charity consulting firm. "You can't keep cutting an organizations's funding and expect it to do a job that you want it to do."

The GAO report found that the number of charities audited by the IRS is falling alongside staffing levels. The report notes that only 0.7 percent of the charities who file tax returns are reviewed, compared to 1 percent of individual taxpayers and 1.4 percent of corporations.

The report also says the IRS could be more clear with state regulators, who can be hampered by federal privacy laws, about what data they can glean from IRS files to help build cases against bad actors.

The report also recommended that Congress act to require more charities to file electronic tax returns — which would cut down on labor and make the IRS' job easier.

The Times and CIR spent a year investigating nonprofits across the country and identified the worst charities based on the money paid to for-profit fundraising companies over a decade.

Reporters also collected data from regulators in more than 40 states to piece together the first national list of regulatory actions against charities. Previously, regulators in one state had no systematic way to check if a charity had been in trouble somewhere else.

Reporters found that government regulation was so lax that charities and fundraisers banned in one state could simply move and re-open in another.

Comments
St. Pete approves biggest budget in city history: $717 million

St. Pete approves biggest budget in city history: $717 million

ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council blessed the largest budget in city history on Thursday night, adopting a $717 million budget that starts Oct. 1.The 2019 budget is about $200 million more than the current budget. That massive increase was driven by ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Marijuana use is now as common among baby boomers as it is among teens, federal data show

Marijuana use is now as common among baby boomers as it is among teens, federal data show

Talk to your grandparents about marijuana - before somebody else does.The latest release of a massive federal drug use survey shows monthly marijuana use has skyrocketed among older Americans. The past decade, in fact, has seen a sea change in the de...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Former Tampa Bay exec and Chico’s CEO Shelley Broader discusses changing retail in St. Pete visit

Former Tampa Bay exec and Chico’s CEO Shelley Broader discusses changing retail in St. Pete visit

ST. PETERSBURG — When Shelley Broader worked in Tampa Bay, she was turning around a failing grocery store.It was the early 2000s. Amazon wasn’t a powerhouse yet, people were still on Myspace and no one was ordering groceries online. On Thursday, she ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Tampa Bay’s fastest selling used car is a Prius. Do you drive the slowest selling car?

Tampa Bay’s fastest selling used car is a Prius. Do you drive the slowest selling car?

Apparently, a lot of people in Tampa Bay are trying to get their hands on a Toyota Prius. An analysis by iSeeCars shows that the eco-friendly car is the fastest-selling used vehicle in the area, averaging 19.2 days on the market. That might not be su...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Cargill recalls more beef on E.coli worries from Colorado plant tied to previous recall

Cargill recalls more beef on E.coli worries from Colorado plant tied to previous recall

Cargill Inc. is recalling more than 132,600 pounds of ground beef possibly contaminated with harmful E. coli bacteria that food-safety investigators believe has already caused 17 illnesses and one death.The beef originated at a Cargill slaughterhouse...
Published: 09/20/18
Colorado-based alternative fuel company to hire 45 at new $10 million factory in Plant City

Colorado-based alternative fuel company to hire 45 at new $10 million factory in Plant City

PLANT CITY — Alternative fuel firm MLMC Florida will open a $10 million factory near the Hillsborough-Polk county line and will create 45 new jobs paying an average salary of at least $58,383 a year, officials said Thursday.Based in Parker, Colo., ML...
Published: 09/20/18
Publix has pumpkin spice everything on sale, and other deals this week in coupons (Sept. 20-26)

Publix has pumpkin spice everything on sale, and other deals this week in coupons (Sept. 20-26)

Sometimes, the coupon gods align. And, man, that’s beautiful because everyone loves so-cheap-it’s-almost-free stuff.Vegetarians rejoice: This week’s steal of a deal is for you. Publix has Quorn "chick’n" nuggets and patties on BOGO (buy one, get one)...
Published: 09/20/18
Homes sales jump in Pinellas and Hillsborough in August after months of declines

Homes sales jump in Pinellas and Hillsborough in August after months of declines

Home sales in August hit their highest levels in a year in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties as prices throughout the Tampa Bay area continued to rise. In Pinellas, sales of single-family homes jumped nearly 7 percent from the same month a year ago....
Published: 09/20/18
Floridan hotel misses deadline, faces hearing on repairs to keep more concrete from falling

Floridan hotel misses deadline, faces hearing on repairs to keep more concrete from falling

TAMPA — When a chunk of concrete fell off the Floridan Palace Hotel last month, injuring a woman who was struck by debris, city officials gave the historic building’s owners a deadline to submit an engineering report and make repairs.That deadline ca...
Published: 09/20/18
Too many homeowners forced to tap home equity to pay for day-to-day expenses

Too many homeowners forced to tap home equity to pay for day-to-day expenses

Tapping home equity to pay for day-to-day expenses like groceries and utilities is a recipe for financial peril. It can work for a while, especially if home prices are rising. Eventually the spigot runs dry, bills pile up and your home can be lost to...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18