CPA addresses tourism commission concerning finances

By Paige Nash

Kristine Cole with Wise, Martin & Cole, L.L.C. attended the Webster Parish Convention & Visitors Commission board meeting last Wednesday to present the 2021 Financial Review. 

Cole discussed the possibility of a full-blown audit for the 2022 fiscal year. Audits are needed in cases when the overall revenues exceed $500,000.  

For the year 2021, overall revenues were $479,000, so it is possible the board will exceed the amount of $500,000 for the year 2022.  

In conclusion to the report, Executive Director of the WPCVC Serena Gray asked Cole about establishing Miller Quarters Park as a 501c3 organization.  

Gray asked, “If we were to set up a 501c3 for Miller Quarters Park, would we be able to receive services in kind, like maintenance perhaps?” 

According to the Internal Revenue Code, to qualify as a 501c3, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for tax-exempt purposes and none of its earnings may benefit any private shareholder or individual. Commonly, organizations that are 501c3 are referred to as charitable organizations and are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. 

Cole explained that setting up a 501c3 was not necessary since the tourism commission is a government agency, they are a tax-exempt entity and can receive contributions since they own that property.

“Since you own the property, people could actually make those contributions to the tourism commission and you would just give them a statement saying, ‘you made a contribution to use, it’s tax deductible,’ ” Cole said. “Since you are a political subdivision, you do not have to set up a 501c3. But since you are a political subdivision, any money that comes through you is public money and can only be spent according to public funds and you are subject to the law.” 

On the other hand, if the board wanted to create a non-profit organization just to keep things separate a 501c3 will allow them to be considered a charitable tax-exempt organization. This would allow them to accept donations in cash or non-cash forms, such as services.  

“If you are just wanting to keep it separate and create a non-profit organization, someone is going to have to be in charge of doing all that paperwork, keeping up with the records and filing the application to be able to qualify as a tax-exempt organization,” said Cole. “You will be required to keep up with things that are donated. Mostly, it’s going to be your tangibles and supplies. As a 501c3 organization, you will be required to keep up with the information and statements they give at the end of the year.” 

Cole offered to get the board an application if that is something they wanted to pursue. No decisions were made regarding setting up Miller Quarters Park as a 501c3 organization at this time. It is only being considered.  

To report an issue or typo with this articleCLICK HERE