Fun with fine print: The IRS Form 990 isn't merely “a public information form designed to help potential donors evaluate charities' effectiveness”; it is the nonprofit's tax return, designed to enable the IRS to discern whether it is following all the rules and regulations required to maintain its tax-exempt status. Web sites like Guidestar make these tax forms available to the public on the Web for the reason stated in Matt Smith's article (“SF Disconnect,” Jan. 16). The laws requiring nonprofits to provide copies of their tax returns to anyone who asks — a form of “sunshine ordinance” — are also for this purpose, because, in a sense, tax-exempt orgs are owned by the public. There is not the same degree of governmental oversight and review of 990 tax returns as there is on individual tax returns. Were you to look at a number of nonprofit tax returns via Guidestar (which lists generally smaller organizations), you would find glaring errors in simple math and “line A must equal box B” that would usually result in a form letter and notice of correction if errors like these were found on an individual's tax return. Because a nonprofit doesn't pay income tax (with a few exceptions), these errors are probably often ignored.
Defining the terms “program,” “management,” and “fund-raising” is also somewhat arbitrary. If an organization holds a program-related event that is also a fund-raiser, how do you categorize it? As is mentioned in this article, most organizations will try to categorize as many events as possible as “programs.” Maybe SF Connect's CPA didn't get that memo.
I appreciate that Matt Smith consulted with knowledgeable people in researching this article, because it appears that he doesn't really know much about nonprofit tax reporting and the issues involved. Case in point: the fact that SF Connect filed multiple extensions to file its tax return. This is common. This is not scandalous. What is potentially scandalous is that Matt Smith didn't mention the relationship between SF Connect and the Newsom administration, and how that relationship could violate rules about lobbying and political campaigning that are quite strict for exempt organizations.
No cash, no care: That was a very interesting article on SF Connect. I actually volunteered for one of its events last year, just to see what the heck was going on down there. I hate to say anything negative about an event where lots of citizens are volunteering their time for what they perceive as a good thing. However, from my own observations, a whole lot of the “homeless” who showed up were very undeserving of the charity efforts they were receiving.
I think Care Not Cash was a huge improvement over the previous general assistance setup. However, the permanent housing program for the homeless that is being implemented as a solution will never fix the problem. This is because when you make these programs so attractive, there will be a never-ending line of new homeless to receive benefits.
The sense of entitlement some of these people have is absurd and surreal. There was one guy who wrote a letter to the editor who said he had been homeless for five years and had just moved to San Francisco. He said our homeless services were inadequate and that all homeless people should be given free, decent-quality housing in good neighborhoods. I responded with a letter to the editor and suggested that we give all homeless people free condos in Pacific Heights. It is outrageous that bums like this stroll into town and think hard-working taxpayer citizens should pay unlimited taxes and hand them everything they want. This guy should get a swift kick in the ass and be told to either get a job, or get out of town.
I, for one, am sick and tired of bending over backwards for homeless and degenerate bums and the politically correct hacks on both sides of the political spectrum who make excuses for their unacceptable behavior. I don't think I'm alone in this regard.
Comment of the week from SFWeekly.com:
Hey, mailmen have enough crap to deal with, i.e., bad weather, heavy loads. They don't need to endure an attack from someone's pet as well [“The Postman Who Cried Woof,” Jan. 9]. Imagine having someone jumping out and yelling “Boo!” at you as you walked around your workplace. It is unsettling! I carried mail for a year. At least four times a day I had dogs lunge at me, and I was bitten once. Your dog may be friendly to you and your family, but can be a nuisance or even dangerous to strangers.