Saturday, July 12, 2014

Why we can't find Form 990 tax returns for non-profit corporations on the Internet anymore

Public.Resource.Org has taken down all its Form 990s for non-profits because the IRS won't redact social security numbers from the documents it sells.

Here's what you see on a page where you used to find the Form 990 of a non-profit:

Public access to this database of Exempt Organization filings has been terminated due to inaction by the U.S. Congress and the Internal Revenue Service.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Eagle Icon

7 Frequently Asked Questions About the Sequestration of the Form 990 Database

Question 1: I'm outraged! To whom may I complain?

Public.Resource.Org is not accepting complaints at this time. Here are two places you can reach out to:
  • The IRS refuses to talk to us and we're assuming they'll refuse to talk to you as well. However, they work for the President and he can be reached at (202) 456-1414 or @whitehouse on twitter.
  • You can also write your Congressman. The most active on IRS issues has been Chairman Darrell Issa who can be reached at (202) 225-5074 or @DarrellIssa on twitter.

Question 2: What was this service before it was terminated?

Public.Resource.Org purchased over 2,000 DVDs from the Internal Revenue Service containing the annual information filings of Tax-Exempt Organizations, the Form 990. The IRS distributes this data as a series of 1-page low-resolution TIFF images, with 60,000 images per DVD. The DVDs are sent monthly.
Public.Resource.Org has processed 7,634,050 of these filings into PDF files and made them available on the Internet using Secure HTTP, FTP, and rsync protocols. There were no restrictions on use and no charge for the service. We have offered repeatedly to donate the system to the IRS.

Question 3: What is the IRS doing wrong?

There are 3 big problems with how the IRS handles this database:
  • Selling DVDs for $2,910 per year as a way of distributing an important database is ridiculous in this day and age. The data should be distributed in bulk on the Internet and these important public filings should (indeed must!) be made available on a government web site with a permanent URL and secure HTTP service.
  • Large organizations all e-file their returns, but the IRS deliberately dumbs down those returns by imaging the data onto a form and releasing it as a low-resolution bitmap. They do this do avoid “too much transparency.” Despite a number of meetings at the White House to get the IRS to release the data as machine-processable data as the President has ordered, the IRS has refused to comply. We are now in court to compel the release of this data.
  • There are a large number of Social Security Numbers in the Form 990 database. We have cleaned up many of those privacy breaches and our colleagues at other services such as GuideStar have done the same, but the IRS refuses to act and continues to sell this tainted data in violation of the law.
In addition to the 3 technical issues, there is an attitude problem. Despite a huge number of detailed and constructive notices sent to the IRS, they refuse to talk to us or to anybody else.

Question 4: Why are you terminating public access to this database?

We cannot continue to fix this database, redacting privacy information and providing better public access, if the IRS continues to break it. We redact Social Security Numbers, but the IRS continues to sell this data. This is unconscionable.
We were particularly outraged when we saw the Congress and the IRS finally start paying attention to privacy issues, but only in the context of a few dozen political operatives while ignoring privacy breaches that affect hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren, veterans, homeowner associations, fraternal organizations, local fire departments, and community volunteers.

Question 5: What must the IRS and the Congress do to fix this database?

There are 3 things the government must do:
  • Instead of selling bulk data on DVDs, the government needs to move towards an on-line distribution at no charge. This is how we distribute patents, SEC data, the Official Journals of government, and other crucial public databases. After the government has fixed the bulk data distribution issues, they should provide an on-line service that has individual Form 990s on a secure HTTP connection so citizens can access these public filings from a trusted source.
  • The government must release e-file data. This is required by law, the forms are meant for public inspection, and there is a crying need to access this information in a better way. The Congress and the President have required by law that the Form 990s be made available to make our nonprofit sector function more effectively and deliberately dumbing down the data is a thumb in the nose of the law.
  • The government must fix the privacy problems. The existing database should be scanned for Social Security Numbers and they must be redacted. Individuals whose privacy has been breached by the IRS must be notified. The IRS must scan incoming returns and look for SSNs and refuse to accept those returns when they find them. The IRS must provide a point of contact to accept notifications of privacy breaches discovered by individuals or institutions.

Question 6: What will Public.Resource.Org do?

Public.Resource.Org will continue to scan each monthly feed of DVDs and notify individuals, organizations, the IRS, and Congress of privacy breaches. In addition, we will continue our lawsuit and will pursue any administrative or legislative measures available to compel release of the e-file data.

Question 7: Why should I care?

If you work in the nonprofit sector, as a foundation executive or charity watchdog, you should be outraged by this situation. If you are a government law enforcement official, such as a state Attorney General, the IRS is making your job harder by not making this crucial information available. If you operate an Internet service such as LinkedIn or Google (or any startup that wants to be LinkedIn or Google) you should be outraged that this information was available in machine-processable format and the government deliberately dumbs it down.
The people that should care the most are the ones that have been ignoring the situation. Distribution of protected information by federal employees is a crime under 26 USC 6103. As the IRS well knows, indviduals could sue the IRS for $1,000 per viewing. Think about that. There are over 100,000 SSNs we've discovered in this database, we know that at least 9 customers purchase the database. Instead of organizing a $1 billion lawsuit against the government, we've spent two years building a better system and trying to help the government fix their systems.
The people that should care about this are the officials in the White House who have written and promulgated important new policies about the distribution of government data only to see the IRS ignore them. The people that should care are the members of Congress who mandated the Form 990 so our nonprofit sector could function more effectively. The people that should care are the IRS employees that are being exposed to criminal penalties for deliberately distributing protected information.
We should all care about this important database. I hope you will ask the Congress and the Administration to pay attention.
Carl Malamud
June 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chicano Federation San Diego County Child Nutrtion Program

Chicano Federation CEO Raymond Uzeta handles $18 million per year

"Maura Larkins: You get federal money so you should be revealing information."

Raymond Uzeta: "I don't think this conversation is going to go anywhere. I have someone waiting at the door...Bye."

(See more of the conversation below.)


Fiscal Year Starting: Jul 01, 2011
Fiscal Year Ending: Jun 30, 2012

Revenue Total Revenue $18,935,564

Expenses Total Expenses $18,352,531

My conversation at noon April 29, 2014 with Chicano Federation CEO Raymond Uzeta

(Mr. Uzeta returned my call to Pam Portillo.)

I asked a question about the Child Nutrition Program.

"We don't provide that information. What else can I help you with?"

"Do you feel that you helped me with that question?"

"Is that the only question you have?"

"Not by a long shot...I have concerns about the professionalism of your Child Nutrition Program."

"Where did you get those concerns? You need facts."

"That's why I'm calling. I'm trying to get facts."

"Where did you get your suspicions? Did you just wake up one day and feel suspicious?"

"I am not going to reveal my sources. You get federal money so you should be revealing information."

"I don't thing this conversation is going to go anywhere. I have someone waiting at the door...Bye." He hung up.

Chicano Federation Leadership

Raymond Uzeta/ President and CEO (or Interim CEO?)

Pam Portillo, Chief Operating Officer

Pamela Portillo, VP of Housing and Community Development

Pamela got a BA in Environmental Planning from UC Santa Cruz and MA in Urban Planning from UCLA. She is a member of the San Diego Association of Realtors and the San Diego Housing Federation.

Vic Salazar/ Communications and Fundraising

Vic Salazar joined Chicano Federation team in 2009 as a member of the Board of Directors. He became Chairman of the board in 2011.  He served as Interim Executive during a transition period in 2012, apparently after Arnulfo Manriquez left and before Raymond Uzeta came back. Vic has a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He started Vic Salazar Communications, a Public Relations company, in 2008.

Vic was a news anchor at NBC 7 and KGTV10.

Vic likes Cottonwood Golf Club.

Chicano Federation San Diego County Child Nutrtion Program

To apply for the Nutrition Program or if interested in obtaining a State Child Care License contact Rosa Ortiz at (619)285-5600 x 328, or email - See more at:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

L.A. city controller issuing subpoenas as standoff over two DWP non-profits heats up

L.A. city controller issuing subpoenas as standoff over DWP heats up
City Controller Ron Galperin aims to compel Brian D'Arcy, leader of the utility's largest employee union, to show where $40 million has gone.
By Jack Dolan
Los Angeles Times
January 08, 2014

Brian D'Arcy, business manager for Local 18 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, has blocked attempts by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the DWP Board of Commissioners to inspect the financial records of two DWP-affiliated nonprofits he co-manages.

More than $40 million spent over the last decade to improve labor relations at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has, instead, sparked an increasingly tense standoff between a union boss and the city's most powerful elected officials.

City Controller Ron Galperin announced Wednesday afternoon that he was issuing subpoenas to compel Brian D'Arcy, leader of the DWP's largest employee union, to show where the millions went.

The rare legal maneuver came hours after D'Arcy failed to appear in Galperin's office to begin an audit of two DWP affiliated nonprofits D'Arcy co-manages — the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute.

City officials began trying to track the nonprofits' spending after a Times report in September showed the city-owned utility had only scant information on how the money has been used.

Since then, D'Arcy — business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 — has successfully blocked attempts by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the DWP Board of Commissioners to inspect the nonprofits' financial records.

Garcetti and City Atty. Mike Feuer appeared with Galperin at a Wednesday afternoon news conference to demand that D'Arcy comply with the subpoenas and cooperate with their attempt to follow the money.

"I think all three of us believe in safety and training and those are important functions," Garcetti said. "If there's nothing to hide with those things let's move on, but we can't move on until we see the information."

The nonprofits were created to improve relations between the city-owned utility's managers and unionized workers following a series of contentious job cuts in the late 1990s. They are run by D'Arcy and DWP General Manager Ron Nichols, and funded with proceeds from ratepayers' electricity and water bills.

There has been no public accounting of the nonprofits' spending since their creation more than a decade ago. Nichols says he supports transparency, but turning over the nonprofits' records requires the consent of both management and labor.

D'Arcy did not return a telephone call requesting comment Wednesday afternoon. The union's lawyer sent a letter to Galperin on Wednesday morning that said the nonprofits were not subject to Galperin's demands for information because they were not "public agencies."

That's the same argument the union made in August when The Times initially requested the nonprofits' financial records under the California Public Records Act. Managers at the DWP, which is a public agency, said they had only limited information about how the money had been spent. Both sides refused to describe the nonprofits' day-to-day activities.

Limited records provided by the DWP show the nonprofits have spent about $1 million a year to pay the salaries of a few of the trusts' top executives: The Joint Training Institute's administrator was paid $212,236 in 2012, the records show. Jon Pokorski, another top administrator and the union president, was paid $171,361 in 2012.

Federal tax forms filed by the nonprofits offer only broad summaries of the organizations' outlays, including more than $360,000 spent on travel from 2009 to 2011 and nearly $2.4 million spent on "other."

Friday, March 21, 2014

It turns out I made a mistake by signing up at the YMCA

The San Diego YMCA pays $544,172 to President and CEO Baron Herdelin-Doherty.

The organization is a bit secretive: it doesn't put its
Form 990 (tax form) on its website. Perhaps one of these
years Herdelin-Doherty will pull in over $1 million like
his predecessor (see San Diego Union-Tribune article below--
the SDUT managed to get a look at the 2009 Form 990).

My experience

I was delighted last July with my clever decision to take exercise classes at the YMCA.

But it didn't work out well. I wasn't able to make it to the classes I wanted to take. I had scheduling conflicts, an injury and I was out of the state for six weeks.

This wasn't the fault of the YMCA, but I'm wondering about their policy of taking $38 out of my checking account every month without regard to whether I am receiving any benefit.

I am thinking in particular about older members who may become incapacitated physically or mentally and who aren't able to make it to the Y to cancel their membership. Some of them might not have email, which is what I used to cancel my membership today. How long will that money keep flowing to the YMCA?

I called to express my concerns about this, but the membership director at the McGrath Family YMCA wasn't available--she was out of the office and wouldn't be available to talk to me for an hour or two. At least, that was the story I was given. But the minute I asked to talk to the executive director, what do you know? The membership director suddenly happened to walk into the office and got on the phone with me!

I said that was serendipitous, and she claimed that she didn't understand what I was talking about and that I should talk to someone else. So I am writing this as I wait for a call from Jennifer Pillsbury.

While waiting, I Googled the San Diego YMCA and discovered that their Form 990 (tax form) is not on their website!

Charity Navigator, however, has collected some information:
Compensation of Leaders (FYE 06/2012)

$544,172 Baron Herdelin-Doherty President, CEO
$187,500 Richard A. Collato Former President, CEO [The former president is still pulling in all this money? No wonder it cost me so much for classes. See below for San Diego Union-Tribune story about Collato.]

Now get this. Here's the mission of the YMCA:
Character development is an important part of the YMCA Mission and through all its programs the YMCA works at teaching young people to accept and demonstrate the four core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility in their daily lives.

Doesn't "responsibility" include putting your form 990 on your website? Doesn't "caring, honesty and respect" include not taking money from people when giving them nothing in return?

YMCA chief was paid nearly $1 million
The nonprofit says it was a one-year anomaly based on a retention package for the successful leader
By Jeff McDonald
Dec. 9, 2010

Richard Collato

Tax form for the YMCA of San Diego County Pay compared

YMCA of San Diego County

President/CEO Richard Collato [Retired Sept. 30}
Compensation: $954,441
Gross receipts: $151.8 million
Employees: 4,178*
Endowment: $14.9 million

*Number provided by YMCA of San Diego County; 2008 tax records state 5,967; YMCA staff declined to explain the discrepancy

YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles

President/CEO Larry Rosen Compensation: $432,417 Gross receipts: $143 million Employees: 3,511 Endowment: $29.3 million

YMCA of Greater New York

President/CEO John Lund Compensation: $563,947 Gross receipts: $166 million Employees: 6,040 Endowment: $33.1 million

YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago

President/CEO Stephen Cole Compensation: $409,526 Gross receipts: $153.7 million Employees: 4,053 Endowment: $162.3 million

YMCA of San Antonio

President/CEO Baron Hardelin-Doherty [*Became YMCA of San Diego County president/CEO Oct. 4.
] Compensation: $318,032 Gross receipts: $20.5 million Employees: 1,200 Endowment: $1.7 million

National Council of YMCAs of the USA

President/CEO Neil Nicoll Compensation: $457,570 Gross receipts: $82.3 million Number of Employees: 347 Endowment: None reported

SOURCES: Most recent publicly available Internal Revenue Service Form 990s

The new president and chief executive of the nonprofit YMCA of San Diego County will be paid $400,000 a year, with the opportunity to add an additional $120,000 in incentive pay.

That’s a reduction from what his predecessor made.

Baron Herdelin-Doherty, the former head of the San Antonio YMCA, took over in October. He replaced Richard Collato, who was paid $954,441 in the fiscal year that ended in June 2009.

That was the most recent compensation reported on nonprofit tax forms. The information is available for public review because the organization benefits from tax-exempt status.

YMCA officials say Collato’s pay that year was an anomaly including a special retention package designed to extend his nearly three-decade run at the community organization, which has almost 300,000 members and participants in its programs.

They declined to disclose his salary for the year that ended this past June. In the tax year that ended in 2008, the agency paid Collato $625,000 and in 2007 he collected $566,000, tax records show.

Even that lowest-paid year for Collato exceeds the most recent compensation reported for his counterparts at YMCAs in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and even the head of the National Council of YMCAs of the USA, who was paid $457,570.

Collato’s bosses say he was worth it. They defended Collato’s salary and benefits as a justified expense befitting a gifted and visionary leader.

“Richard Collato spent 43 years at YMCAs around the country and was brought to San Diego 29 years ago,” YMCA board Chairman Robert Buell said. “He took the YMCA here basically from being an insolvent institution at that time to being the second-largest in the country.”

Collato did not return a call seeking comment.

Buell said a significant portion of the salary paid to Collato in the most recent year reported was due to a bonus he was awarded for serving out his three-year contract.

That extra pay came to about $360,000 paid in a lump sum, Buell said. Collato also received the maximum bonus from the performance incentives written into his agreement, the chairman said.

“He had risen to such a stature that we had to come up with something called a retention concept,” Buell said. “We also have some incentive compensation based on actual performance.”

The Y reported $121 million of expenses overall in the most recent tax year. Of that, $1.8 million went to fundraising and $6.8 million went to management and general expenses. The remaining 93 percent went to program service expenses, according to the tax form, well within accepted nonprofit best-practices.

Still, Cassandra Uphaus, a single parent and graduate student from Mission Hills was not pleased at the thought that her fees support such compensation, even though she pays discounted membership as a student and single mother.

“I’m definitely surprised,” she said. “I don’t know if it makes me think any less of the organization because of the situation I’m in. I’m definitely at an advantage.”

But “some of the programs beyond those included in the membership fees are a little pricey,” she said.

Pat Libby, who runs the Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research at the University of San Diego, said lawmakers are starting to take a closer look at salaries paid to charity officials.

“It goes to the question of public tax dollars,” she said. “Should people receive a tax deduction for contributing to organizations where executives are so highly compensated?”

In addition to his pay from the Y, Collato was paid income from service on corporate boards. He received more than $380,000 for serving on the boards of Sempra Energy and the WD-40 Co. in the last year, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission records show.

Libby said Collato’s service on corporate boards was likely an asset to the nonprofit, especially when it comes to fundraising.


Phone call from Jennifer Pillsbury March 24, 2014

Jennifer ignored my request for a call-back until my blog post about the YMCA apparently got enough attention to earn me a small amount of regard from the higher-ups at her organization.

I told Jennifer that the YMCA should have a drop-in rate like Weight Watchers. She said, "We are a membership organization." (She repeated that several times before her surprise statement at the end.)

I said yes, I know, but you could be more responsive to people's financial needs. You're kind of smug, with your non-profit status. You don't have to be as responsive as Weight Watchers because you have donors that are getting a subsidy from Uncle Sam for the money they give to you. I asked for a written response. She said she'd send it.

Then she started explaining to me about how virtuous the YMCA is. I agreed that they are better than non-profits like Comic-Con and the National Football League, but that they do exist in part to make their president wealthy while paying very little to other employees.

She started in again talking about how they give scholarships.

I said I'd just like a response to my suggestion.

Then, suddenly, she said, "We have a drop-in rate."

I said, "Why didn't I ever hear about that?"

She said, "It's on our website and in our literature. And if you ask about our drop-in fee, we'll tell you about it."

It's like a Catch 22. They only talk to you about it if you already know about it.

[I'd been paying membership dues of $38 a month since last July, and attending very few classes due to injuries, scheduling conflicts, and a 6-week trip. If I'd let my dues lapse, I'd have to pay a whole new fee to rejoin. They sort of get you hooked. You can't take a break or they punish you. It seems to me that I paid a bit over $50 to join, but apparently the fee has been raised. Here's what the website says today:

Joining Fee Monthly Fee
Adult $100 $53
Single Parent Family
$100 $59
Family $100 $84]

I called the YMCA and learned that the drop-in rate is $10. I sure could have saved a lot of money (hundreds of dollars!) if I'd known that!