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The North Carolina Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) lost its tax-exempt status earlier this year, but the change was not made public by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) until August. Newly appointed North Carolina Executive Director Da’Quan Love said the national office “has been very concerned with the state of the North Carolina State Conference for many years,” according to WRAL.
Love’s job is to help shore up the organization’s finances. He explained that taxes were not filed during the three years Rev. Anthony Spearman led the chapter. Moreover, he did not transfer the financial documents and records to the current president and first woman to lead the state’s NAACP, Deborah Maxwell.
According to the IRS website, non-profit organizations that fail to file taxes for three years automatically lose their tax-exempt status, which presents a problem for donors who cannot write off money given. As a result, donors might find the IRS asking questions about their tax filings during that three-year period.
Any donations made to NAACP North Carolina in 2021 cannot be deducted, and until this mess is cleaned up, future donations will not be exempted. However, NAACP representatives at the state and national levels are working to restore the branch’s tax-exempt status.
Losing its tax-exempt status is the latest financial dilemma the state chapter encountered. The organization is divided over financial accusations and Spearman’s electoral defeat before his death in July. He filed a lawsuit against members of the national NAACP.
While Love investigates the financial problems, he said the national office is giving the state chapter “on the ground support to make sure they can continue to focus on the day-to-day civil rights work that impacts North Carolinians,” according to The News and Observer.
“We’ve got to get Black folks to the polls this November. We had the Leandro case going on. So we are very busy doing civil rights work,” Love added.
The Leandro v. State of North Carolina is an education inequity case. “In 1994, five school districts in low-wealth counties, along with families, filed a lawsuit against the state (Leandro v. State of North Carolina), arguing that their school districts did not have enough money to provide an equal education for their children, despite the fact that they taxed their residents higher than average,” reported the Public School Forum of North Carolina.
It has been 25 years since this case began. Despite the North Carolina Supreme Court ruling twice that it was unconstitutional to deny children the right to a sound basic education, which includes competent teachers and administrators. The case is set to be heard again by the state supreme court this fall.
The NAACP get-out-the-vote drive is vitally important since, in the past two decades, the Republican-led state senate has twice engaged in unconstitutional racial gerrymandering after the 2010 and 2020 decennial censuses. And they proposed two state constitutional amendments, one to impose a photo identification requirement to vote and one to lower the income tax gap.
The case against North Carolina’s legislature began in 2018 when the NAACP challenged the constitutionality of the proposed amendments. Unfortunately, the case has been adjudicated several times in favor of the people and in favor of the government. Then, four years later, the North Carolina Supreme Court agreed with the NAACP, according to a statement by their representatives, Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and Justice Forward.
North Carolina’s NAACP president explained:
“Today’s decision sends a watershed message in favor of accountability and North Carolina democracy. Rigging elections by trampling on the rights of Black voters has consequences. No legislature has the right to use racially gerrymandered maps — infecting more than 2/3 of the districts of this state — to steal power from the people to change our state’s constitution. The NC NAACP was proud in 2018 to stand up against this widespread abuse by the NC legislature and we are proud today to have prevailed in our fight to protect the sanctity of the North Carolina Constitution. We vow to continue Forward Together, Not One Step Back in our fight for the rights of the people.”
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Winston-Salem Journal: IRS revokes tax-exempt status of North Carolina NAACP
The News & Observer: NC NAACP loses tax-exempt status; audit assessing misspending allegations; by Lars Dolder and Dan Kane
WRAL: ‘Turbulent times’ for state NAACP as civil rights group loses tax-exempt status
Public School Forum of North Carolina: Leandro v. State of NC: Background & Resources
Southern Environmental Law Center: North Carolina Supreme Court rules that racially gerrymandered legislature does not have unlimited authority to change NC’s Constitution