The Gift Has Arrived: Our Exempt Status After 6 Years
Today is a bit of a historical point for us: we can publicly announce the news of the IRS finally granting our tax exempt status.
The digital age is wreaking havoc, however, on the PR and news processes. In fact, we knew about this nearly 2 weeks ago, but due to a number of legal and procedural issues and a story we were being interviewed for, we were on hold in making this important announcement. And we’re still struggling to get this out on the wires (mostly due to a change our of our PR Agency at the most inopportune moment).
The result: WIRED Magazine actually got the jump on us (oh, the power of digital publishing), and now hours after their article posting, we’re finally getting our own press release to the world.
I have to observe, that notwithstanding a paper-chase of near epic proportions with the IRS in granting us what we know our charter deserves to do foster the good work we intend, at the end of the day, 501(c)(3) status is a gift from the government. And we cannot lose sight of that.
So, for the ultimate outcome we are deeply grateful, please make no mistake about that. The ways and means of getting there was exhausting… emotionally, financially, and intellectually. And I notice that the WIRED article makes a showcase of a remark I made in one of the many interviews and exchanges leading up to that story about being “angry.”
I am (or was) angry at the process because 6 years to ask and re-ask us many of the same questions, and perform what I humbly believe at some point amounted to intellectual naval gazing, was crazy. I can’t help but feel like we were being bled. I fear there are many other valuable public benefit efforts, which involve intangible assets, striving for the ability to raise public funds to do public good, who are caught up in this same struggle.
What’s sad, is that it took the guidance and expertise (and lots of money that could be spent on delivering the on our mission) of high powered Washington D.C. lawyers to negotiate this to successful conclusion. That’s sad, because the vast majority of projects cannot afford to do that. Had we not been so resolute in our determination, and willing to risk our own financial stability to see this through, the TrustTheVote Project would have withered and died in prosecution of our tax exempt status over 6 years and 4 months.
Specifically, it took the expertise and experience of Caplin Drysdale lawyers Michael Durham and Marc Owen himself (who actually ran the IRS Tax Exempt Division for 10 years). If you can find a way to afford them, you can do no better.
There is so much that could be shared about what it took and what we learned from issues of technology licensing, to nuances of what constitutes public benefit in terms of IRS regulations — not just what seems obvious. Perhaps we’ll do so another time. I note for instance that attorney Michael Durham was a computer science major and software engineer before becoming a tax lawyer. I too have a very similar combination background of computer science and intellectual property law, and it turned out to be hugely helpful to have this interdisciplinary view — just odd that such would be critical to a tax exempt determination case.
However, in summary, I was taught at a very young age and through several life lessons that only patience and perseverance empower prevailing. I guess its just the way I, and all of us on this project are wired.
GAM | out