Tumalo association faces nonprofit hurdle

Community group didn’t realize it had to file annual reports with IRS

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin / @EGlucklich

Published Apr 20, 2014 at 12:01AM

For more than seven years, a small group of Tumalo residents has been meeting to discuss community issues and give the area a stronger voice in Deschutes County.

But the Tumalo Community Association’s successful fundraising in past years has it facing a potential glitch with the Internal Revenue Service.

Residents of the unincorporated community have donated to the association and paid annual membership dues, supporting efforts for small projects such as new pedestrian trails and highway signs.

As membership has swelled from about a dozen people to more 50, funds collected by the association have increased, too.

A few years ago, fundraising efforts and membership dues topped $5,000, Tumalo Community Association Board Chairwoman Kenna Sneed said.

Once a group hits the $5,000 mark, it’s required to register as a nonprofit with the Internal Revenue Service and file annual financial reports.

But the Tumalo association hasn’t filed any reports in the past three years, a fact that eluded board members until Sneed became the association’s board chairwoman this year.

“We always were really small,” Sneed said last week. “We never filed to be a 501(c)3,” the IRS code for nonprofits.

It’s unclear what ramifications, if any, the Tumalo association could face as a result.

Becoming an IRS-recognized nonprofit requires a filing fee as high as $850.

“The (Tumalo) organization doesn’t have any money,” community association Vice Chairman Dale Peer said, adding the small amount it does raise goes straight to local projects. “My thoughts on it are, do we even need to do it? Let’s just be a community organization.”

Sneed said the board is likely to take up the issue at a future meeting, but board members are not sure how the nonprofit situation will be resolved.

At a community meeting last week, the talk was about more basic issues.

A handful of community members discussed plans to install two “Welcome to Tumalo” signs along U.S. Highway 20. The group also brought in Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone and his primary election challenger, Richard Esterman, to discuss various county issues.

“The Tumalo Community Association was created to be that educational and informational organization,” Sneed said. “We try to get a lot of feedback from the community, so we can really be the voice for Tumalo.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com