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August 10, 2022

Boone County Disapproves $50K Grant To Northern Illinois Food Bank –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On December 26, 2021

Boone Co., IL. (ECWd) –

The Boone County Board heard objections and voted to disapprove a $50K grant to the Northern Illinois Food Bank, which, according to county board members, would have used all or part of those funds to donate to the “Empower Boone” Food Pantry, with allegations the Empower Boone organization’s status as a charity was revoked or would soon be revoked.

Our research indicated Empower Boone is not registered in the Illinois Attorney General’s Charitable Database to be able to solicit donations within the state of Illinois (which could be due to short staffing at the AG’s office, or because they never filed the appropriate paperwork), and their latest IRS Form 990 was filed for tax year 2016.

To view a list of approved exempted organizations as published by the IRS on October 11, 2021, click here. An updated list it scheduled to be published on December 31, 2021.

Empower Boone, under its former name (using the same tax ID number) Belvidere-Boone County Food Pantry, Inc., filed its latest IRS 990 report in 2017 for tax year 2016 when it had $2.1 million in total revenue.

IRS Rules are that when a charity fails to properly report for three consecutive years, their charity status is automatically revoked:

Organizations that do not file a required annual information return or notice for three consecutive years automatically lose their tax exempt status by operation of law. An automatic revocation is effective on the original filing due date of the third annual return or notice (the “Revocation Date”). Due to the COVID-19 emergency, this year the IRS extended the filing dates for these returns and notices due from April 1 through July 14 to July 15, 2020.  Organizations eligible for this relief that failed to file for the two previous years and did not file by July 15 have automatically lost their tax exempt status.  Due to systemic limitations, these organizations appear on the auto-revocation list showing a Revocation Date between April 1 and July 14, 2020.  However, the Revocation Date for these organizations is July 15, 2020.

Empower Boone did receive a $9K PPP loan in 2020, is registered with the Illinois Secretary of State as a not-for-profit but does not appear in the Illinois Attorney General’s Charitable Trust database (which could be due to short staffing during COVID).

The issue presented was transfers of money or goods from the Northern Illinois Food Bank to Empower Boone when Empower Boone has not submitted its required IRS tax forms for tax years 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and soon to be due to file its tax forms for 2021.

A representative of the Northern Illinois Food Bank stated they have reviewed the tax and charitable status of Empower Boone and they require all of their member agencies to be in compliance. Although the representative suggested reporting requirement changed due to COVID, and Empower Boone still technically held its charitable status, we disagree as the only extension was for 3 1/2 months, and they are not listed in the latest IRS published approved exempt organization database. The Northern Illinois Food Bank representative stated they will follow up with Empower Boone to ensure they come into compliance by filing the proper tax paperwork.

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