IRS Audit of Local VFW Angers Post Commander - The Missourian: Politics

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IRS Audit of Local VFW Angers Post Commander

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Posted: Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:00 pm

The commander of Washington VFW Post 2661 said an ongoing IRS audit of his organization is a government intrusion.

“Honestly, I think it’s a bunch of BS,” Commander Kurt Gansmann said, adding, “I definitely feel like they are overstepping their bounds.”

It’s offensive that the IRS would intrude on an organization made up of people who put their lives on the line for the country, he said.

Gansmann added, “These politicians sit up there and make millions. For what? What are they doing? They’re not defending this country. We are.”

It appears that the IRS is targeting the VFW since this is the second post the federal agency has looked into in the St. Louis region recently. The other one was in Wentzville, he said.

VFW Post 2661 Senior Vice Commander Steve Graves also raised concerns about the IRS audit.

“Why pick on us? Graves asked.

It appears the IRS is “questioning the integrity” of the VFW and other veterans organizations, such as the American Legion, Graves added.

IRS audits of veteran organizations, such as the VFW and the American Legion, have been a national controversy recently.

Graves said an IRS official spent four days at the Washington VFW Post last week combing through documents.

“She was very diligent,” Graves said.

The Missourian sought comment from the IRS on the matter. But IRS spokesman Michael Devine wrote in an email that, “Strict privacy laws protect every individual, business entity and exempt organization from unauthorized disclosures of details of their relationship with the IRS. Unless there is public record, such as court records or documents filed in the public domain, we cannot discuss tax matters publicly.”

Audit

Gansmann said the local VFW has never taken anything it should not take, adding that the Post is run in a professional manner.

As the commander, he said he will not tolerate “shenanigans” at the Post.

“I don’t play around,” he asserted.

There are only three employees at the local VFW, and they are paid a small amount, Gansmann pointed out.

Audits have been conducted on the VFW before, but this one is more extensive, Gansmann said. The IRS is seeking information to see if members are eligible to be veterans, he added.

“She’s going through stuff that has nothing to do with taxes,” Gansmann said. “It’s getting very aggravating.”

And now the IRS official will be coming back to the VFW Post on Feb. 25 to gather more information as part of the inquiry.

The agent was from Town and Country, and she wanted to see meeting minutes, financial documents and membership records, Graves said.

Rather than targeting volunteer veterans organizations made up of people who believe in their God and country, the IRS should spend its time looking into corruption and mishandling of funds, he said.

It is not as though the VFW “funnels a lot of money” through its operation, he added.

The local Post files its tax returns, and there is much oversight within the organization, which has a board that Graves serves on, he said.

Still, Graves said the VFW post will comply with the audit since the IRS is a government organization. The IRS may be checking to see that the Post is run as a nonprofit organization, Graves said, adding that the organization is indeed run as such.

The local VFW Post is now working to gather the remaining documents that the auditor will seek when she returns Feb. 25, Graves said. Those documents include a full list of members, service dates, how much they pay in dues and whether they are current on dues, he said.

It is a lot of work compiling the information, Graves said, adding that the post has been there 75 years and there are members who have been in for 50 years.

“I’ve got 80-year-old members here,” Graves said. “I don’t remember when they were in the service.”

The IRS should be able to get much of this information on its own, Graves asserted.

VFW Quartermaster Mike Corbett said the VFW will successfully complete the review, adding that the last IRS audit was done about 20 years ago in 1993.

The IRS agent has been easy to work with and is just doing her job, Corbett noted.

“They are very thorough and go line by line,” Corbett said.

But he said the agent has not been harassing the VFW and has been accommodating with her requests.

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