August 31, 2020
Lake Lure- Recently around August 12 Hickory Nut Gorge EMS and Rescue (est .1977) sent out a mass mailing asking for donations to support their nonprofit organization. In this mailing they asked every resident and property owner to consider donating $50.00 per household to their organization. They stated it would be a tax deductible donation as they are a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.
I was contacted about this with a question by a property owner asking if the county funded them. I knew they have been contracted with the county since 2018 to provide service but that the county did not 100% fund their operating expenses. Being a certified nonprofit manager I began to search online for their 990 tax return (which is a public document) to see how much of their budget was supplemented by the county so I could accurately answer the question.
I first went to GuideStar.org which is a site that lists 990 forms of nonprofits and found this listed: (click here) Hickory Nut Gorge Volunteer Emergency Medical Service & Rescue Lake Lure,NC EIN 59-1748373. “This organization has not appeared on the IRS Business Master File in a number of months. It may have merged with another organization or ceased operations. This organization’s exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.”
I then went to IRS.gov to see what was listed there and found the following: (click here) “Auto-Revocation List: Organizations whose federal tax exempt status was automatically revoked for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years. Important note: Just because an organization appears on this list, it does not mean the organization is currently revoked, as they may have been reinstated.Exemption Type: 501(c)(3), Exemption Reinstatement Date: None, Revocation Date: 11-15-2019, Revocation Posting Date: 03-09-2020.”
After going to several other online sites that stated : “This organization is not listed in the IRS’s most recent list of tax exempt organizations, but we have data associated with this Employer Identification Number. We have reconstructed basic information about the organization (like its name and tax code designation) from an old list of exempt organizations. However, this information may be out of date. It’s even possible that the organization no longer has tax exempt status or no longer exists.” I realized there was indeed an issue.
CauseIQ.com had 990’s available up to 2016 but nothing more recent. (click here) Their site stated this:“The IRS revoked this organization’s federal tax exemption on Nov. 15, 2019, for not filing a Form 990-series annual return or notice for three consecutive tax years.”
501c3lookup.org showed “no results found” when the EIN was entered. (click here)
I contacted the county to ask about Hickory Nut Gorge EMS (HNG EMS) nonprofit status. They had HNG EMS Chief Amy Dalton call me. In that conversation (on Aug.13) she told me the 990’s were all up to date and that the IRS was wrong. I asked her where I could locate her 990’s and she said she did not know and would ask her accountant. I asked her to have her accountant email them to me which she assured me she would. I then sent a public records request to the county to ask for their contract information with HNG EMS and any 990’s they might have.
On Aug. 21 I received a reply from the county that they did not require 990’s but did receive the contract information showing where the county has given them $150,00.00 per year in an auto renewing contract that was signed July 1, 2018. There was a handwritten note on the contract requesting the 990’s, an audit, and revenue estimates. (none were obtained in the records request however)
This contract shows where HNG EMS is paid monthly by the county and recommended that an audit by a CPA be done at discretion of the county along with an IRS letter of determination. The last recorded figures available were noted on the 2019-2020 funding request which showed $102,201 received from the county and $257,128 from billing revenue. Estimated budget expenses were listed at $386,048. (estimated budget for 2020-2021 shows $402,836.)
Officers listed for HNG (2018) are as follows: Amy Dalton: firstname.lastname@example.org, Frankie Hamrick: email@example.com, Zack Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.org, and Lori Roach: email@example.com
On Aug 16 I sent a follow up email to Chief Amy Dalton again requesting the 990’s. I also sent a Facebook message to the organization which she replied that she would be getting with her accountant this week.
After no reply on Aug 20 I sent another email to Chief Dalton again requesting information on the 990’s. I also sent a request for information to the IRS and the Secretary of State Office regarding the 501(c)3 status.
On August 27 after no reply from Chief Dalton or her accountant I again sent a Facebook message to the organization requesting information and received a reply that the message would be sent to the person in charge of this.
If you have donated to Hickory Nut Gorge EMS and Rescue since November 15, 2019 and have used that donation as a tax deductible donation you will need to personally verify that their 501(c)3 status has been reinstated before the date of your donation and amend your tax return if necessary. If you only donated due to their nonprofit status and want your donation returned you will have to contact their board at the emails listed above, call 828-625-1595, or mail your request to 140 Bills Creek Road Lake Lure,NC 28746.
On a personal note: This organization is a valuable asset to our community and one that is near and dear to many of us here in the county. We do hope that they can remedy this situation with the IRS regardless of the reasons and have their status reinstated understanding the public trust and responsibilities of being granted a 501(c)3 status.
I will update this article as information becomes available concerning their 990’s and the nonprofit status of the organization.
If you have any questions or concerns please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will attempt to get them answered for you. (all communications are confidential)