Gulch group misses non-profit filing deadline

By Sara Bruestle | Aug 14, 2013

The Japanese Gulch Group missed the deadline to renew its non-profit status with the state.

A Mukilteo resident notified the city of the group’s “suspended” status at the Aug. 5 City Council meeting. As it turns out, the Japanese Gulch Group didn’t know about it either.

The group’s registration expired April 30, but the Washington Secretary of State Office allows four months to pass before the non-profit status is made inactive. The deadline was Aug. 1.

Paige DeChambeau, executive director of the group, said they turned in the paperwork to re-register as a charitable organization on Aug. 6.

The group is still registered with the federal government as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit, DeChambeau said.

“Since Monday’s council meeting, all the steps to rectify the situation have been taken,” she said. “We remain in good standing with the IRS, and now also the state of Washington.”

While researching the Japanese Gulch Group, resident Charlie Pancerzewski found that the non-profit group was listed as “inactive” in state government records, meaning it was no longer registered as a charity organization.

He was concerned that the group may be illegally collecting donations to go toward the city’s efforts to purchase 97 acres of undeveloped land in Japanese Gulch and preserve it as parks and open space.

“The Japanese Gulch Group is suspended,” Pancerzewski said. “They haven’t been reporting their revenues and expenses like they’re supposed to be reporting.

“If they have any employees… they’re not exempt from reporting.”

DeChambeau said the status lapse occurred because of a recent change in directors. She replaced Sabrina Bolieu as executive director of the Japanese Gulch Group on Dec. 12.

“I thought it was already taken care of,” DeChambeau said. “I guess it wasn’t.”

Arnie Hammerman, president of the group, said they called up the Secretary of State Office that Tuesday, explained the situation, and were told that it was no problem.

The missed deadline would be overlooked, as long as they got their paperwork in as soon as possible, he said.

“It’s a paperwork oversight and not a big deal,” Hammerman said. “It’s a moot point.”

DeChambeau said the Japanese Gulch Group thanks Pancerzewski for bringing their inactive status to their attention.

“The Japanese Gulch Group is very appreciative of the people in the community who care so much about the work that is being done by the group and its supporters,” she said.

The Japanese Gulch Group was founded in 2007 with a mission to preserve the undeveloped gulch for the benefit of wildlife and the community for generations to come.

It registered with the state as a non-profit on April 10, 2008, a status that must be renewed annually.

The group has an 11-member board of directors, more than 100 additional members and 500 supporters signed up on its mailing list.

For more information, go to www.japanesegulch.org.

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