WOONSOCKET – You won’t be able to tell from watching the parade on Columbus Day, but Autumnfest Chairman Timothy Paul says he wasn’t always sure there was going to be one this year.
A former police detective who is serving his second stint as chairman of the city’s premier civic bash, Paul revealed in an interview with The Call that he commissioned a forensic audit of the non-profit organization earlier this year because its financial records were in disarray.
Paul said that shortly after becoming chairman in 2011, he discovered that Autumnfest had no bookkeeping records, no checkbook and that it hadn’t been renewing its tax-exempt forms with the IRS.
“No checkbook, no register, not anything,” he said. “When I took over I realized what a mess we were in, not just financially but organizationally.”
Paul said he was trying to renew a routine insurance policy for Autumnfest in May when a vendor told him his records were showing that Autumnfest had lost its tax-exempt status. Paul said the IRS had mailed Autumnfest 18 letters of warning before stripping the non-profit of its tax-exempt status, but somehow there is no evidence of them anywhere.
Because of the snafu, Autumnfest was forced to pay a significant sum in back taxes to the IRS in 2011. Its tax-exempt status has since been restored.
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