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X.Org Foundation Loses Its 501(c)(3) Status

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  • #31
    Originally posted by bridgman View Post
    It's a non-profit. They don't have to pay taxes unless they're conducting a "regular business" under the same umbrella (which AFAIK X.Org is not) and until recently (~5 yrs) apparently they didn't have to file tax returns either.

    It does seem that tax returns were required for the last few years, however. That said, it might be better to find out what the status of the tax returns was and maybe why they hadn't been filed yet rather than assuming "they don't care".

    This might be an internet forum, but we don't *have* to act like wild animals
    Actually the reverse statement would be more accurate

    This might be an internet forum, but we don't *have* to act civilized.

    They *might* not have *had* to file taxes (A statement that is made highly questionable by the fact that the IRS cracked down on them). However situations like this are perfect examples of why you do it anyway regardless because while you just might get away with it there's a very good chance you're going to be burned at some point.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Luke_Wolf View Post
      They *might* not have *had* to file taxes (A statement that is made highly questionable by the fact that the IRS cracked down on them). However situations like this are perfect examples of why you do it anyway regardless because while you just might get away with it there's a very good chance you're going to be burned at some point.
      What I was saying was that in earlier years they probably didn't have to file tax returns, but in more recent years the regs changed and tax returns *were* required (and it seems the IRS cracked down on them because they weren't). Different regs for different years.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by bridgman View Post
        ... and it seems the IRS cracked down on them because they weren't).
        Make that "...because they weren't filed)."

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        • #34
          While that is fair... For a business the rule is that you file your taxes even if you don't need to and you keep your records going back all the way to the start, because otherwise when (not if) the IRS decides to audit you you're going to have a bad day.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by libv View Post
            First off, i organize the Xorg devroom at FOSDEM, and there is no involvement of the foundation on that whatsoever. This ever since daniel stone complained about the plans to use 25USD per head for a social event.
            Here's exactly what I said:
            'Hmm. FWIW, Xorg doesn't usually pick up dinner tabs (we generally get other companies to sponsor it). Unfortunately I can't wrangle money out of $company-I-was-working-for this year, but maybe $othercompany/$othercompany/whoever would be willing to step up?'

            Not 'no', not 'this is too expensive', but 'here's what we've done every other time, perhaps this could be an option'. That was also in reply to the mail where I was the second person to vote yes to allocating you 'funds not exceeding €2500' for 'organizing a HotHouse, a DevRoom and a Social Event on FOSDEM 2008'.

            Besides, as you know, I haven't even been on the board for four years now. So I'm not sure why I'd be putting you off anything; as you, I'm just another member. The 501(c)(3) stuff came as a massive surprise to me because I haven't been tracking what it does in any way at all, let alone still influencing people to ensure you get no money.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by bridgman View Post
              I think the answer would be "doing what they're supposed to" -- organizing conferences to make plans & communicate progress/ideas for the graphics stack, supporting volunteer developers to work on important parts of the stack, etc...
              If they were doing what they were supposed to be doing they wouldn't have lost their 501(c)3 status because taxes would have been filed. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by smitty3268 View Post
                Except it doesn't only run that, does it? Or we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

                I honestly find this very offensive. It's like you are arguing that you should be able to do this because you want to, and silly little things like following the law and paying debts don't apply to you.

                It's really obvious why this is happening, and continuing to happen, if everyone involved has this kind of viewpoint. And I think you should be ashamed.

                If you can't afford to buy something, don't buy it. If you can't afford to run the foundation, stop trying to run it. Don't pull this crap and then pooh-pooh anyone who complains by saying it's too expensive to do the right thing.
                are you volunteering to help? If you aren't part of the solution, then you are part of the problem ;-)

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by robclark View Post
                  are you volunteering to help? If you aren't part of the solution, then you are part of the problem ;-)
                  No. Sorry if i came off as raging, but I guess i was in a bad mood, and honestly the kind of excuses being thrown around here are one of the major things i hate about today's society. Man up and take some responsibility, guys. Stop blaming others for your own mistakes.

                  Normally I think Michael's constant harping about you guys is annoying and way overblown, but this is really just plain unacceptable.

                  All right, i'll get off the soap box now.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by smitty3268 View Post
                    Normally I think Michael's constant harping about you guys is annoying and way overblown, but this is really just plain unacceptable.
                    Most of my gripes with the foundation come after organizing XDC2011 and seeing numerous inefficiencies within the organization. The biggest tipping point of that was when finding out that Stuart hadn't even paid the remaining balance for the venue in a timely manner. We were given a nice discount on the venue/services there as the ACM chapter at the university was kind enough to 'refer' us to the appropriate department and to be linked to this student organization. That was basically the ACM's involvement while X.Org received a nice rate for securing the venue.

                    A few weeks after XDC took place, I find out the ACM group's rights at the university were revoked over the X.Org Foundation not paying their bill on time. It was a temporary matter but a major nuisance to a student organization that did nothing but help out the foundation and the foundation in turn couldn't even pay their bill on time. After settling the matter, they didn't send an apology or do much (anything if I recall) to reconcile it with the student organization. (And it wasn't hard at all to pay the bill, they even had a nice online site for processing everything... For when Phoronix sponsored beers for an afternoon of XDC, the university timely sent me an email invoice and provided plenty of payment options, of which for my charges I was able to pay right away via their website while back in Germany.) There's also been smaller other troubles unrelated too.
                    Michael Larabel
                    http://www.michaellarabel.com/

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by smitty3268 View Post
                      No. Sorry if i came off as raging, but I guess i was in a bad mood, and honestly the kind of excuses being thrown around here are one of the major things i hate about today's society. Man up and take some responsibility, guys. Stop blaming others for your own mistakes.
                      Well, I'm not blaming anyone else (and I'm not on xorg board either). I guess what I was trying to get at was this.. sometimes these sort of admin roles are filled not because someone has the right experience/qualifications, but because, well, in the absensce of someone more qualified stepping up and volunteering, the job still needs to be done. If I was in this guy's shoes, I would have made the same mistake. I'm a sw dev, gfx driver hacker.. I've never run my own business, etc. And I would have been equally blindsided by not doing something that I didn't know needed to be done.

                      So yes, the xorg board needs to learn from the mistake. Probably joining up as part of a larger org is the right move.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by robclark View Post
                        I'm a sw dev, gfx driver hacker.. I've never run my own business, etc. And I would have been equally blindsided by not doing something that I didn't know needed to be done.
                        Common sense dictates that if you volunteer to do something, you'd better find out how to do that job. I realize that level critical thinking is above the paygrade of the average hacker, but not consulting with a tax attorney when you are handling the money of any foundation is just fucking stupid.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by yogi_berra View Post
                          Common sense dictates that if you volunteer to do something, you'd better find out how to do that job. I realize that level critical thinking is above the paygrade of the average hacker, but not consulting with a tax attorney when you are handling the money of any foundation is just fucking stupid.
                          oh, right, because we all have tax attorneys on retainer. Now go STFU and do something useful.. I've got better things to do.

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by robclark View Post
                            oh, right, because we all have tax attorneys on retainer. Now go STFU and do something useful.. I've got better things to do.

                            Anyone taking on the role of treasurer in a not-for-profit organisation must have a basic understanding of accounting and a working knowledge of the laws governing the organisation's operation. This also includes sitting down with a professional accountant even if they only ever look at your books once a year.

                            The main duties of a treasurer are to oversee the financial administration of the organisation, review procedures and financial reporting, advise the board on financial strategy,keep up to date records,make sure the organisation complies with tax regulations(501c doesnt mean you dont report)

                            Instead of seeking professional advice from an accountant its likely the foundation will now need a tax attorney to sort the mess out.

                            So apparently its a massive FAIL on the treasurers part and everyone else making excuses.
                            Last edited by DDF420; 09-01-2013, 07:31 PM.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by DDF420 View Post
                              So apparently its a massive FAIL on the treasurers part and everyone else making excuses.
                              Well, until they start accepting the "I've got better things to do" excuse because we all know how difficult it is to find a tax attorney by typing in white pages tax attorney into google.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by yogi_berra View Post
                                Well, until they start accepting the "I've got better things to do" excuse because we all know how difficult it is to find a tax attorney by typing in white pages tax attorney into google.
                                sigh.. way to take a quote out of context. I do wonder sometimes, whether anyone bothers to read first before hitting the "reply" button. The "I've got better things to do" was in reference to me arguing with the monday-morning quarterbacks. Not anything to do with xorg foundation or BoD.

                                But, ok, I'll try to summarise the situation as I understand, because reading the whole thread plus xorg meeting minutes is apparently so difficult for everyone else:
                                1) xorg foundation is run by volunteers, one of which is stuart. He is not an accountant, he is a principle sw engineer. They are doing it to try to help advance x11 and the open source graphics stack. It is not a paid job. And the foundation doesn't have a huge amount of money to hire tax attorneys, etc.
                                2) the foundation has not needed to file tax returns for past 8 or so years.. and this was apparently not a problem ~1yr ago when they first got 501c3 status.
                                3) stuart did not say "I've got better things to do", as far as I understand he has been doing everything that he and the xorg board knew to do.
                                4) then without prior warning, IRS informed them that 501c3 status is lost due to not filing last 3 yrs tax returns.

                                So, maybe someone with more experience running a 501c3 or a tax attorny would have known better. (And considering we apparently have so many such experts on phoronix forums, I'm really surprised that someone else didn't step up and volunteer to advise the xorg BoD.) But to me it seems like an honest mistake. I do hope something good comes of it, it does sound like joining up under the umbrella of some bigger non-profit will be a good move. Open source graphics community is, in generally, pretty understaffed for what we do, and it does seem that trying to run a foundation on top of all the other work is just stretching things too thin.

                                I know it is easier to critizise the people that are trying to help after the fact, but not terribly useful. So why don't you go do something useful instead and contribute to free software in some form or another.

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