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Gouverneur Rescue Squad waits for IRS decision

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GOUVERNEUR — The Gouverneur Volunteer Rescue Squad has revamped its policies and procedures to ensure responsibilities are carried out after losing its nonprofit status for failing to file tax returns for three consecutive years.

“This event has allowed us to make needed changes,” Director of Operations Mark A. Deavers said. “It sped up the process.”

Earlier this winter, Crowley & Halloran CPAs, Watertown, filed the errant tax returns for 2010, 2011 and 2012 and an application for retroactive reinstatement of the squad’s nonprofit status. The last letter from the Internal Revenue Service, dated Feb. 18, said it would render a decision within 90 days if additional information was not needed and within 180 days if more paperwork was required, Mr. Deavers said.

“We’re about 60 days in from what would be 90 days,” he said.

The accountants are working on the squad’s 2013 return, Mr. Deavers said.

The squad had last filed a tax return with the IRS for 2009.

Changes in the department’s policies and procedures include oversight of money, such as who has access to funds and how it is spent, checks and balances for safeguarding funds, and who is responsible for specific tasks.

“It’s been a complete restructuring,” Mr. Deavers said. “The errors of the past won’t happen again.”

The squad also is backing up its books with the accounting firm. The squad previously lost financial data through a computer system upgrade and had to reconstruct some of its books and records.

Loss of its tax-exempt status has hurt the squad’s pledges of support.

“We haven’t actively solicited for donations,” Mr. Deavers said.

When donations come in, the squad sends out a letter explaining it is not currently a nonprofit and offers to return the funds. Donations are down significantly.

The squad on average received $7,000 to $8,000 annually over the last few years. Since its loss of tax-exempt status, donations are at about $300, Mr. Deavers said.

Donations are not the primary revenue for the squad, which bills insurance companies, but every bit helps, Mr. Deavers said.

“It’s not going to break us,” he said. “It’s just the loss of little luxuries. I can stretch $8,000 quite a bit.”

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