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IRS yanks Nitro CVB's nonprofit status over 'snafu'

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Internal Revenue Service yanked Nitro's Convention and Visitors Bureau nonprofit status earlier this month after the organization failed to file proper returns.

However, John Young, treasurer of the Nitro CVB, called the matter a "snafu" and said he doesn't believe the organization has to file a Form 990 -- a form that nonprofit groups use to report their finances to the IRS.

Leonard Womble, who stepped down last year as chairman of the CVB, said he told Young "there would be an issue with the status.

"I had talked to John on several different occasions and told him I didn't feel his position was correct, in that no filing was required," Womble said.

The CVB, which received its exempt status in 2010, has never filed a Form 990, required of nonprofits and charitable organizations, Young said. The IRS states on its website that after three consecutive years of not receiving the series of filings, an organization's exempt status is automatically revoked.

Jama Jarrett, vice president of operations for the Charleston CVB, said that her organization is required to file the Form 990.

There is a list of exceptions, but, according to Dave Fontalbert, chief fiscal officer for Kanawha County, convention and visitors bureaus don't qualify.

"My understanding [is] that any nonprofit or charitable type of organization . . . with receipts in excess of $25,000, has to file," Fontalbert said,

CVBs derive money from a city's hotel/motel tax. The Nitro CVB received $85,000 in 2010 and $151,000 in 2011 that the agency would have been required to report on a Form 990, according to Young.

 He said Thursday that he met with a representative from the IRS and handed over information from the past three years.

 "I know we'll get it back," Young said of the tax-exempt status. "I still don't think we necessarily have to file, but when the IRS says we have to file, you give it to them."

Fontalbert said losing the status could cripple the organization.

"I believe it would mean they could no longer solicit contributions, nor make any awards," he said. "It would completely impair their ability to operate."

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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