Attorney General Rob Bonta warned activist group Black Lives Matter (BLM) this week that they are now delinquent in sending fees and filing tax forms with the state, and may face large fines and loss of tax-exempt status if the problem isn’t resolved by the end of March.
According to the January 31, 2022 letter first uncovered by the Washington Examiner, the Black Lives Matter parent company was warned that charitable donations would not be able to be used for any fine payment, and that BLM executives would personally be held responsible for it should the necessary paperwork and fees not be turned in to the state on time.
“The organization BLACK LIVES MATTER GLOBAL NETWORK FOUNDATION, INC. is delinquent with The Registry of Charitable Trusts for failing to submit required annual report(s),” said Bonta’s letter. “An organization that is delinquent, suspended or revoked is not in good standing and is prohibited from engaging in conduct for which registration is required, including soliciting or disbursing charitable funds.”
“Charitable assets cannot be used to pay these avoidable costs. Accordingly, directors, trustees, officers and return preparers responsible for failure to timely file the above-described report(s) are personally liable for payment of all penalties, interest and other costs incurred to restore exempt status.”
The California Department of Justice letter ended by saying that all reports must be sent in to the Franchise Tax Board and the Registry of Charitable Trusts within 60 days of the letter, March 31, 2022.
Specifically, BLM will need to pay the Registry of Charitable Trusts renewal fee and send in the IRS 990 financial activity disclosure form, as well as similar RRF-1 California paperwork, for the 2020 fiscal year.
While not officially stated by BLM, the delay is likely due to BLM changing their registry to a charity in the middle of 2020 and leadership changes in the last two years. While 2019 forms didn’t show any revenue or expenses in 2019 before being registered as a charity, the next year they showed that $90 million had been raised with roughly $30 million spent on operating expenses and grants, with the organization ending the year with around $60 million.
In April 2021, the Globe reported Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of the controversial Black Lives Matter movement, had purchased a home for $1.4 million in Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles. Shortly thereafter, the National Legal and Policy Center revealed Cullors had amassed a $3.2 million property empire, and multiple properties in several states, according to the Daily Mail.
The state is currently having issues on who to possibly name as liable if BLM doesn’t fulfill the demand by the end of March. BLM co-founders Patrisse Kahn-Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi have all left the group. Two activists who were supposed to take over, Makani Themba and Monifa Bandele, both left over disagreements with the organization and have since distanced themselves from BLM.
“Bonta and everyone will have to look all over Oakland for who is liable,” said Patrick Sanders, a LA-based accountant who helps non-profit organizations prepare taxes, to the Globe on Wednesday. “If there is no leaders, then they’ll go down to the board, or working groups, and whoever else on down. There’s always someone left in the hierarchy they can find. Even largely decentralized groups like BLM always have some sort of core leadership if they want to stay standing. Those that don’t quickly fall apart, like the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 60’s or Occupy Wall Street in the late 2000’s.”
It is currently unknown what BLM leaders, if any, will respond and file the missing documents and fees. All are due by March 31st.
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