Cutting the profits from nonprofits

Nonprofits, it seems, are in the official cross hairs and under assault.

A bill filed by state Sen. Mark Montigny of New Bedford to stop health plans from paying “volunteer” board member exorbitant stipends could also impact compensation to board members at some of the state’s oldest and largest charities.

The Boston Globe reviewed the filings of the state’s 50 largest charities and found that eight paid their board members some level of compensation, several of them in excess of of $100,000 each. A watchdog organization tells the Globe about 3 percent of the 22,000 nonprofits registered with the attorney general pay their board members.

Meanwhile, the IRS yesterday revoked the tax-exempt status of 275,000 nonprofits – about 14 percent of the tax-exempts in the country – for failing to file the proper paperwork for the last three years. Nearly 7,000 are in Massachusetts alone. While many of those nonprofits were defunct, the list includes a number of active charities and other nonprofits as well, such as several local AFSCME and NAGE union groups, the International Oddfellows club in Hyannis, some AmVets organizations, at least 26 youth hockey programs, and a slew of Harvard alumni groups. The IRS move, which came after repeated warnings to the groups, means donations are not tax deductible unless they file the proper updated paperwork for reinstatement.

The IRS action comes as President Obama is seeking to limit the amount of deductions wealthy donors can write off, a move many nonprofits say will inhibit giving and further strain their resources. Some in Congress want to look at whether itemized deductions discriminate against low- to middle-income taxpayers who don’t qualify for itemizing the way wealthier donors do.

Earlier this week, the state Appeals Court ruled that even though the Bridgewater State University Foundation is a qualified charity, the school itself is not and property owned by the foundation but used by the school is subject to local taxation. If the foundation does not appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court, it would owe about $100,000 in back taxes to the town of Bridgewater and open up a Pandora’s box of problems for nonprofit organizations used solely for real estate holdings.

Add on to this the harder push by cities and towns to increase their payments-in-lieu-of-taxes from nonprofits to help with their depleted coffers and it looks like the spotlight is on charities like never before. Where once it was their good works and benign nature that drew attention, donors and officials now want to make sure the ducks are in a row and no one is taking the “non” out of nonprofit.

                                                                                                                                                               –JACK SULLIVAN 


After approving $10 million worth of executive branch raises, Gov. Deval Patrick hears it from both sides of the aisle.

Prosecutors may not seek the forfeiture of Sal DiMasi’s North End condo.

Brian McGrory spotlights the pathetic state of laws and procedures for disclosing elected officials’ financial holdings and obligations, with a shout-out to CommonWealth for making public access to records a little easier.


In Lynn, Chief Financial Officer Richard Fortucci fires his comptroller, John Pace, for pocketing a CFO stipend longer than he allegedly should have. Pace had been temporarily filling in for Fortucci after Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy suspended him. The Item reports on this long-running soap opera.

For the first time in 40 years, Peabody municipal workers will receive no raises, the Salem News reports.

Attleboro may appeal a civil service ruling that reinstated two laid off redevelopment officials, and handed them $270,000.

The Globe looks at the up-and-down racial history of recreating at South Boston’s Carson Beach.

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow, in his weekly Globe column, looks at the not so successful effort to launch a business improvement district to support the Rose Kennedy Greenway.


Anthony Weiner doesn’t have any friends. But 56 percent of his constituents want him to stay.  Former congresswoman Pat Schroeder shares her disgust in a candid Q&A with National Journal.  Money quote in response to the first question asking her general reaction to the Weinergate revelations: “I want to look for a barf bag.”

Is Hillary Clinton off to the World Bank?


Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard is saying what others are whispering: The problem with Newt Gingrich’s sputtering candidacy is his wife has become his polarizing lead advisor and convinced the former speaker to campaign part-time. Here’s the Times story on the Gingrich staff’s mass defection, and here’s the view from the inside.

Mitt Romney won’t participate in the Iowa Straw Poll, following a path blazed by John McCain in 2008.  And he gets a chilly reception in his native Michigan, where his hard-line stance in 2008 against federal help for the auto industry has not been forgotten.

Sarah Palin tries her hand at Cold War history and manages to do no better than she did with the colonial era. And news outlets try out crowdsourcing as one way to get through the 24,000 Palin emails that the Alaska state government is releasing today.

Election 2012 may shape up as a race between economics and demographics.


A heart-wrenching farewell for the West Springfield mother who died while shielding her daughter from the twister’s ravages.

Springfield animal control agencies work to reunite people and their pets after the tornado.

The Springfield Republican cautions residents to be on the look out for scam artists.


Dunkin’ Donuts filed suit against a California software firm saying it is the latest victim of a company that Dunkies says is fraudulently demanding $130,000 for copyright violation. The suit says VBConversions LLC has filed at least 21 other bogus copyright infringement claims.

Goldman Sachs agrees to pay $10 million to settle a two-year investigation by Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin into improper sharing of information.

It’s curtains for the Borders bookstore in downtown Boston.


Time asks: Are these end times for charter schools?

BackBay Patch reports that the Renaissance Charter Public School bought its downtown Boston school building in 1995 with state help for $8 million and then sold it in 2008 for $45 million. The money helped pave the way for a move to a Hyde Park campus.

Hamilton-Wenham Superintendent Raleigh Buchanan received a $115,000 payout as part of a deal terminating his employment one year into his three-year contract, the Salem News reports.


Someone is shooting seals on Cape Cod.

A crackdown by the state’s Environmental Strike Force at the Department of Environmental Protection found 92 fraudulent emissions test results at six auto inspection stations and levied fines and suspensions against the stations.

Bourne is looking to scale back a proposed wind turbine project.


The Boston Archdiocese has taken the lead on the canonization of the Rev. Father Joseph Muzquiz, the founder of the Roman Catholic church’s conservative and controversial Opus Dei movement.


A Quincy man will serve a year in jail and his younger brother was put on probation after they pleaded guilty to stealing US Rep. William Keating’s car in March.


New York Times Co. president Janet Robinson  tells a Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce audience that The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram are “very important” to the company, but did not indicate whether there are plans to sell them. She also said that will become two sites: one with with breaking news and information and the other for subscribers-only.