Thursday, February 23, 2012

Slavery Museum Loses Tax-Exempt Status

For nearly two decades, former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder had talked about the need to teach future generations about slavery.  That desire created his push for the U.S. National Slavery Museum.  On Wednesday, his efforts received a huge blow.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the museum had its tax-exempt status revoked by the IRS, creating another setback for the ambitious effort.  Grand plans had been made for the museum to be built along Interstate 95 in Fredericksburg, Va., but it has yet to be constructed.  Fundraising problems and debt slowed construction, and the nonprofit was forced to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the fall.

The news of the museum losing its tax-exempt status should come as no surprise.  Nonprofits are required to file a return or notice to the IRS every year.  Organizations that fail to do this for three consecutive years are eligible to lose their exempt status.  The Slavery Museum's last federal returns were back in 2007.

Despite all these troubles, it seem as if Wilder plans to keep up the fight for the museum.  He released a statement last year pledging that the museum would be constructed, and an attorney for the organization recently filed a proposed reorganization plan that would be considered by creditors and a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge.  The plan would start a new fundraising campaign designed to bring in $900,000 a year with the ultimate goal of sharing these funds with the public.  The money would also be used to repay its creditors within four years.

You can read the full story in The Washington Post.

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