CHAMBERS CO., Ala (WRBL) – The president of the board at the Chattahoochee Humane Society has decided to go public with a financial problem involving the shelter’s tax exempt status.
The financial status was brought to WRBL’s attention when we reported on last week’s massive animal hoarding case in Chambers County. The story thrust the Chattahoochee Humane Society into the forefront and raised some questions about shelter operations.
This week, Chattahoochee Humane Society’s shelter director Shon Sims and Board President O’Neal Shaw did an hour-long interview with News 3. One of the issues discussed was the status of the organization’s tax-exempt status. Last summer, soon after Shaw became board president, he learned the shelter might have a tax-exempt status issue.
“We started asking questions of the individual who prepares our tax documents and files documents for us, who is a certified CPA and had been doing this for a number of years pro-bono. We were assured everything was in order,” explained Shaw.
Wayne Scroggs is a well-respected CPA and the former treasurer of the Chattahoochee Humane Society.
“I was a volunteer treasurer there for 20 years. I asked for help as my workload increased. I didn’t get it. I’ll admit I did let some things fall through the cracks but not with tax returns,” Scroggs told News 3.
In January of this year, a new accounting firm hired by the board confirmed in May of 2017; The IRS automatically revoked the shelters tax-exempt status after failing to file a 990 Form, for three consecutive years. In a nutshell, a 990 form allows the IRS to eyeball a tax-exempt organization’s activities, governance, and detailed financial information.
“We took immediate action, terminated services from the former CPA and hired a new firm and moved forward,” said Shaw.
The issue could impact donors, who thought they were giving money to a tax-exempt non-profit as a write-off. Shaw says the new accounting firm is working to reinstate the tax-exempt status. It’s his understanding if the process is complete within the year, donors will still be able to write the donation off on their taxes and previous donations would be covered as well.
“We are a volunteer board giving of our time, and certainly I think we are all in it for the right reasons. I think we were so consumed with trying to correct the matter we didn’t give it enough time to think about going public with it,” explained Shaw.
Shaw says Shelter Director Shon Sims and volunteers have been criticized for a problem they didn’t create, nor could they fix. He hopes everyone can now move forward for the animals.
“I’m very relieved that it’s out and people know the truth about that situation and are not just making assumptions,” explained Shon Sims.
Shaw expects the tax-exempt status to be reinstated within a few weeks or months, depending on the IRS. We will keep you updated.