IRS ends charity's special status

By JEN JACKSON
JJACKSON@WDT.NET

PUBLISHED: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2016 AT 12:58 AM

UPDATED: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2016 AT 9:37 AM

WATERTOWN — After many were mystified by an empty office, Robin Colello-Poplaski, founder of Lucy’s House, Inc., said that the charity is still in operation. According to the IRS, however, Lucy’s House hasn’t been a non-profit for months.

On May 15, the IRS automatically revoked the 501(c)(3) tax exempt status of Lucy’s House for “its failure to file a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years.”

Questions were originally raised when Insights Forensic Counseling Inc. and Lucy’s House, which shared an office space in 120 Washington St. and were both run largely by Mrs. Colello-Poplaski, moved out. According to a statement by Mrs. Colello-Poplaski, Insights Forensic Counseling closed for good on Oct. 31 so she could become a school psychologist for the Thousand Islands Central School District in Clayton. Lucy’s House, she said, however, is still operational.

“Our work is uninterrupted and our community support is unmovable. Lucy’s House mission is and will continue to be to decrease the incidence of violence towards youth in our community through education and supportive services,” said Mrs. Colello-Poplaski in the statement.

When asked about the revocation, Mrs. Colello-Poplaski and the organization’s accountant Jeffrey Trubia said it was the first they were hearing of it. Upon revocation, the IRS sends a notification letter and later posts revocation information on its website. According to Mrs. Colello-Poplaski, she never received notification and referred all questions of the organization’s taxes to Mr. Trubia.

Mr. Trubia of The Bonadio Group in Syracuse said on Friday that he was certain that the required 990 form had been filed electronically for Lucy’s House for the last two years. He also questioned whether the non-profit has existed for three years, believing it had only been two years. However, Lucy’s House gained non-profit status from the IRS in October of 2013, making it responsible for filing forms for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Mr. Trubia could not be reached in response to his original comments.

The charity can no longer be contacted by phone, which was disconnected upon moving out of the office space, and its website is currently unavailable. Only the Facebook page remains.

Since the revocation in May, which was publicly posted online on Aug. 8, 2016, Lucy’s House has raised funds through its third annual “Glow Run” 5k event which was held on Sept. 23. Such donations, like the $20 to $30 5K registration fees, are neither tax exempt nor tax deductible at this time.

“There must be some type of error somewhere along the line. This is not something we did knowingly, and we would not have fundraised had we known.” Mrs. Colello-Poplaski said, “At this point, the board is meeting to figure out a strategy to take Lucy’s House in a new direction and address an important need in our community.”

http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/lucys-house-still-in-operation-despite-losing-non-profit-status-20161108

Jen JacksonComment