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VOP stands for Voice of the People, a local provider of affordable housing and (this is the important part) a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. That means it doesn't have to pay income taxes or property taxes; some non-profits have their city water, sewer and sanitation fees subsidized. Voice of the People also happens to be the recipient of several million Wilson Yard TIF dollars, and is considered a partner and project developer of the TIF.
So, here's the thing: Organizations that apply to go through the lengthy process of becoming tax exempt must comply with specific IRS regulations to attain the privilege of not paying taxes. One of the things they promise is to never, ever, ever get involved with politics, endorse candidates or take sides on political issues. As the IRS puts it:
If the IRS discovers that an organization it has declared tax-exempt has broken its promise and engaged in political activity, it's not shy about rescinding that organization's tax-exempt privilege.
To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization ... may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.
We've got no beef with either candidate Retta or VotP. But we're pretty sick of broken rules, broken promises, and non-accountability. We've had enough of that over the past 24 years. So here are our questions:
- Did Voice of the People really risk its very valuable tax-exempt status just to host a candidate meet and greet?
- Or... Did the "VOP Tenant Association" cross that line without the knowledge of Voice of the People's administration?
- Or... Was the "sponsored by" language something that the Retta campaign added for perceived legitimacy or political advantage?
Update: Commenter IndigoJade says: "I really must set the record straight folks. The flyer that is posted here was a misprint V.O.P.was never involved with Retta's campaign or sponsered an event for him. This event was canceled because of this false information. Hate to take the kerosene out of your lamp but this problem was corrected within a day of it being discovered."