By Dave Jordan
Back when Randonneurs USA was just a bunch of malcontents sitting around a table in Newton, MA, we agreed on some general principles about how the organization should work and a roadmap of how to get from our humble beginnings to a reasonably respectable organization. The objectives were pretty aggressive; constitution, bylaws, incorporation, elected board members, tax exempt status, etc. As I write this, a mere 20 months later, I'm happy to report that we've met most of our initial objectives and are on our way to meeting the rest of them. From the standpoint of getting legally organized, our timeline has been as follows:
August 1998 RUSA formed August 1999 RUSA board agrees on an initial constitution and bylaws November 1999 Membership votes to accept the constitution and bylaws February 2000 RUSA incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Rhode Island May 2000 RUSA files for tax exempt / charitable status from the IRS August 2000 Nominations: membership nominates members for election to the board November 2000 Elections: membership votes for the Board of Directors
This may not seem like much, but I can attest to the work that's gone into each step along the way. Hammering out the initial constitution and bylaws took lots of effort by the board, as many of us had differing views of how the organization should look. Getting to the point where we could apply for tax exempt status took more work and input from legal eagles like Rick LeBlanc and Tim Sullivan. Getting nominations for new board members will take more effort from the board and members.
Some members have asked about the meaning of our tax exempt status. We're still working out all the kinks, but here are some common questions and answers:
- Will my dues be tax deductible?
- Will I be able to make tax deductable donations to RUSA?
- How will RUSA itself benefit from tax exempt status?
- As a tax exempt organization, what will RUSA's obligations be?
No. RUSA provides a variety of member services (newsletter, brevet scheduling, results processing, etc.) which are supported by your dues. Since these are services you receive, your dues don't qualify as a donation.
Yes. If we achieve 501(c)3 tax exempt status you will be able to deduct any donations you make above and beyond your dues.
With tax exempt status, RUSA will not be required to pay income taxes on member dues, donations, and reasonable amounts of related income (jersey sales, etc.) This will allow us to retain a reasonable cushion for the between-PBP-years and to focus our financial support on services and on promoting and expanding randonneuring in the US. One other benefit that may come with tax exempt status is that the organization and the board members may be less exposed to legal risk. Some states (Rhode Island among them) limit liability in order to encourage the efforts made by charitable institutions.
Basically, RUSA's obligations will be to continue its current activities - educating and informing the membership, promoting the sport, sched- uling events and managing results.
RUSA has come a long way in the last two years and we're looking forward to organizational stability, with all original objectives met, by the end of this year.