Mon., June 13, 2011 5:00am (EDT)

IRS To Non-Profits: Do You Have A Pulse?
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 3 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
Filing taxes can be daunting.  But for tax-exempt non-profit organizations that make less than $25,000 annually, all the IRS requires is a small, postcard-sized form.  Some organizations, however, can't even handle that amount of work.  And so 7,000 of them in Georgia are losing their tax-exempt status.  (photo Beatrice Murch)
Filing taxes can be daunting. But for tax-exempt non-profit organizations that make less than $25,000 annually, all the IRS requires is a small, postcard-sized form. Some organizations, however, can't even handle that amount of work. And so 7,000 of them in Georgia are losing their tax-exempt status. (photo Beatrice Murch)
IRS officials are revoking the tax-exempt status of more than 7,000 Georgia non-profit groups.

Many are defunct or haven't filed a required form.

The non-profits are in every part of the state.

They include ministries, sports leagues and social service agencies.

There are unions -- like 14 chapters of the American Postal Workers Union -- and fraternal organizations -- like 22 chapters of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Many of their phone numbers are no longer in service.

No one answered the door at the address listed for the Sandfly Community Betterment organization in Sandfly, an unincorporated area near Savannah.

Karen Beavor of the Georgia Center for Non-Profits says, at one time, smaller organizations didn't have to file an annual form.

But that changed five years ago.

"It's just in the form of a postcard," Beavor says. "It's the very barest of information. What they want to know is somebody has a pulse over there."

Nationally, IRS officials have sent letters warning about a quarter of all non-profits that they're in danger of losing their tax-exempt status.

"A lot of times people don't update the address where it should be sent to," Beavor says. "It's a very simple process to do that. But people get busy and, certainly, leadership turns over and they don't do that. And it's very unfortunate."

The groups that actually still exist might face disruption if they don't act quickly.

The IRS has an amnesty period in which affected groups can re-apply for their status for a reduced fee.