IRS revokes Charleston Waterkeeper tax-exempt status

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Waterkeeper Executive Director Cyrus Buffum said the Internal Revenue Service has revoked the organization's tax exempt status because of failure to submit necessary fillings for three consecutive years.

On Saturday, former supporter Ken Bonergio informed Charleston Waterkeeper donors that he discovered that the organization's tax exempt designation from the IRS had been revoked.

"After repeated discussions and emails requesting financial information be made available for inspection not only have my calls for financial transparency been ignored my request that the Charleston Waterkeeper Organization inform supporters and donors of their tax exempt status has also been ignored," Bonergio said in a statement. "My request for an explanation has been met only with "it was a mistake". Why supporters can not be informed of how a "mistake" such as this occurred eludes me."

Buffum released a statement on Sunday stating that the revocation was because of the organization's failure to submit necessary fillings for three consecutive years starting in 2009.

Buffum said the organization has operated and accepted donations under the Waterkeeper Alliance's 501c3 status from 2009-2011.

According to Buffum, the organization received its own 501c3 designation from the IRS in August of 2011, however the organization neglected to "file an e-Postcard, a summarized annual filing to the IRS, for the years [the organization] operated under the Waterkeeper Alliance's fiscal sponsorship."

"Since learning of this issue, we have been working with our general counsel and CPA to correct the error and are seeking retroactive reinstatement of our 501c3 status," Buffum said in a statement. "Our status as a nonprofit organization has not changed, and all donations to Charleston Waterkeeper continue to be tax-deductible under our fiscal sponsor, the Waterkeeper Alliance."

According to the organization's website, Charleston Waterkeeper is: a data-driven, nonprofit organization focused 100% on water quality issues in the Ashley/Cooper River Basin. [They] operate on the front lines, working with a strong, grassroots community of passionate water users to patrol and monitor Charleston's waterways. As part investigator, scientist, lawyer, and advocate, [they] identify and document water quality issues and work towards pragmatic solutions.

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