Quick post of an article that caught my eye from the recent newsletter from the Center for the Future of Museums:

275,000 Groups Lose Tax Exemptions After Failing to File Paperwork With IRS

The CFM estimates that’s about 1,000 museums. Some of those museums, of course, haven’t existed for years. You can actually see the full list here. (There are at least five or six museums in Massachusetts, for example.) Organizations were given three years to comply with the new regulations, so you can’t really argue that this was a surprise.

For some of the nonprofits that are still active, and didn’t get their paperwork together, this could be a devastating blow. They’ll be allowed to re-apply for charity status, but not all of them will make it.

Is this kind of accountability a good thing? I’m not sure the IRS is going to recoup vast amounts of taxes from this exercise, and you could argue that targeting nonprofits, who don’t always have the resources to hire tax lawyers and accountants, isn’t entirely fair. Especially since big corporations, who are in theory taxed at as much as 35%, often find all sorts of loopholes, and in the end pay less in income tax than anywhere else in the world. In fact, lost of them don’t pay taxes at all.

One of the AAM advocacy points is the argument that museums actually can be economic boosters in their neighborhoods. Cultural centers often are – see this great report from NPR about an arts center in Omaha, Nebraska, that’s bringing $100 million to its neighborhood.

No real conclusions, here, just lots of questions and things to consider – which is exactly what one hopes for from a newsletter about the future of museums.

PS – if you’re not on the mailing list for the CFM, you’re missing out. Go, run, and sign up.