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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beefcake View Post
    Ugh, as if the economy wasn't doing enough to weaken philanthropy!

    THIS is one more reason why people either are wary of or just don't give to charities. We almost never know how much, if any, of our giving is going to the needy.
    ITA. Yes I know all about guidestar (it was the first place I went yesterday when I read the news), but in order to see an NPO's financials you have to register, and quite frankly, most people aren't going to bother.

    So many people start non-profits with no clue how to run them, and especially no clue what the legal requirements are to maintain their status. What really amazes me, though, is that NPOs are given provisional exempt status for 5 years, and at that point must undergo fairly rigorous testing to determine that they are an NPO, not a foundation (or bogus). How the hell did their group pass the 5 year test if they hadn't filed any tax returns for years 2-5? Or are they classified as a foundation?

    Not to mention the disclosures needed around paying fees to people with (potential) conflict-of-interest. Is Tara a board member? or somehow legally attached to the org? because those payments to her connections are extremely fishy.
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  2. #42
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    I'd like to know who the "friend" was that she paid $$$ and their role in the event.

    If USFS is going to sanction events like this, they should get proof of proper tax documents.
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  3. #43
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    Makes you wonder how Tara really affords that elaborate lifestyle by representing only a handful of skaters in her life, doesn't it? I don't think Ashley Wagner is represented by Fireworks Sports Marketing. Shade Global represented her in 2010 but I don't know if that relationship continued. I think she might still work with the Gilles Family.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by genevieve View Post
    ITA. Yes I know all about guidestar (it was the first place I went yesterday when I read the news), but in order to see an NPO's financials you have to register, and quite frankly, most people aren't going to bother.
    There is no registration required for Charity Navigator.
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  5. #45
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    I hope Johnny has a good accountant and investment advisor who is separate from Tara's organization.

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    Reading between the lines of the article, I'm guessing Tara got involved in this with the goal of eventually producing skating shows, or representing top skaters, and putting on a 'charity' show was going to be her way in. And she just didn't care about where the profits went or whether profits were disbursed. But you can't call it "charity" if you're not going to actually give the money to a needy cause. And not file tax returns on top of that.

    FWIW, my skating club has an accountant who does our tax filings and stays on top of what we need to do. He is not a volunteer, he is paid for his services (I think he has a non-profit rate he charges us, but not sure). The forms we need to file are determined by the amount of money we take in, not what we spend.

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    From what I saw from Johnny's TV show, Tara is very unprofessional, so I'm not at all surprised that her lack of professionalism spilled over into this "charity" endeavor.

    She has hundreds of thousands to spare to hire a consultant, but she can't pay an accountant anything to take care of the tax filings?

    There are far too many crappy charities because everyone starts their own charities but they find themselves in over their heads. Why can't they just contribute their talents and efforts to an existing charity?
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  8. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by YukiNieve View Post
    ITA.

    As a person who has been attending Mike's show many times,
    I know how much work goes into that and how many volunteers have been involved. From show lighting to ticket sales to collecting auction items to almost everything, lots of volunteers are involved. I really come to appreciate such an enormous amount of effort maid by many people.
    Also note that Weiss has a list of his scholarship winners posted on his web site so the media can contact them and verify that they are receiving funds. Good for him and his team. It takes a lot of work to produce that many events, skaters, etc.

  9. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Visaliakid View Post
    Johnny may not wish to sever his relationship with Tara, but he would be smart to do so at this point!
    Based on the following tweet, Johnny is obviously not doing anything about his relationship with Tara. They're running around Tokyo together.

    "Had a beautiful final day in Tokyo. Shopping at LHP, Restir and Candy, press for Mac campaign and great dinner with @fumiesuguri @tmodlin"

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by sk9tingfan View Post
    Based on the following tweet, Johnny is obviously not doing anything about his relationship with Tara. They're running around Tokyo together.

    "Had a beautiful final day in Tokyo. Shopping at LHP, Restir and Candy, press for Mac campaign and great dinner with @fumiesuguri @tmodlin"
    Read this too. Ugh. She was in Tokyo when the story broke, it seems, but I can't imagine her staff not alerting her to it.

    I'm shocked that none of the other skating folks on twitter seem to have picked up on this article or are tweeting it around. Are they willfully ignoring it perhaps due to their relationship with her? It is skating news after all.
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  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by manleywoman View Post
    Read this too. Ugh. She was in Tokyo when the story broke, it seems, but I can't imagine her staff not alerting her to it.

    I'm shocked that none of the other skating folks on twitter seem to have picked up on this article or are tweeting it around. Are they willfully ignoring it perhaps due to their relationship with her? It is skating news after all.
    I'm guessing that they're being cautious about commenting until a more reliable source picks up the story. (NY Post is pretty much a tabloid.) Obviously the NY Post didn't make this up out of thin air, though. I checked the Stars, Stripes and Skates Web site and there's a letter from Tara (click the link at the site). She says that every dime the charity took in went back into producing the next show (not to the beneficiaries). Unfortunately a lot of charities spend their incomes on operating costs. It doesn't mean it's okay, though. Here's the link:

    http://www.starsstripesandskates.org/

    And here's a notice about this matter from Senator Chuck Schumer (NY):
    http://schumer.senate.gov/Public/irs_6_22_11.htm
    Last edited by Justathoughtabl; 07-05-2011 at 05:13 PM.

  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justathoughtabl View Post
    I'm guessing that they're being cautious about commenting until a more reliable source picks up the story. (NY Post is pretty much a tabloid.) Obviously the NY Post didn't make this up out of thin air, though. I checked the Stars, Stripes and Skates Web site and there's a letter from Tara (click the link at the site). She says that every dime the charity took in went back into producing the next show (not to the beneficiaries). Unfortunately a lot of charities spend their incomes on operating costs. It doesn't mean it's okay, though. Here's the link:

    http://www.starsstripesandskates.org/
    Fair enough. But tax records are tax records, no? (ETA: just saw your link to Schumer's site) If you promote it as a charity, the money (at least SOME money) should go to the charity! I get that operating costs are high, especially for a stadium show. And I do like how well I've seen her treat the performers. But there's got to be some accountability (or accounting ) for the money.
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  13. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by Justathoughtabl View Post
    I checked the Stars, Stripes and Skates Web site and there's a letter from Tara (click the link at the site). She says that every dime the charity took in went back into producing the next show (not to the beneficiaries). Unfortunately a lot of charities spend their incomes on operating costs. It doesn't mean it's okay, though. Here's the link:

    http://www.starsstripesandskates.org/
    Here's the direct link to Modlin's response letter (dated July 4, 2011): http://www.starsstripesandskates.org...SS_Message.pdf

  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justathoughtabl View Post
    I'm guessing that they're being cautious about commenting until a more reliable source picks up the story. (NY Post is pretty much a tabloid.) Obviously the NY Post didn't make this up out of thin air, though. I checked the Stars, Stripes and Skates Web site and there's a letter from Tara (click the link at the site). She says that every dime the charity took in went back into producing the next show (not to the beneficiaries). Unfortunately a lot of charities spend their incomes on operating costs. It doesn't mean it's okay, though. Here's the link:

    http://www.starsstripesandskates.org/
    Interesting read - it seems the spin now is that the shows were meant to memorialize 9/11, and oddly, she says that the interest of the families involved at first "faded."

    Was this always the mission of the show and the foundation? I thought I read somewhere in there that there was intent, at some point, to benefit families of 9/11 victims, and to provide education programs for children about 9/11.

    ETA - located the mission statement:

    ABOUT THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION OF 9/11

    The Heritage Foundation of 9/11 aims to teach younger generations of Americans the historical significance of September 11, 2001. In doing this, the foundation stresses the life lessons we learned in the aftermath of the attacks, patriotism, heroism, and the value of volunteering. Through the annual Stars, Stripes and Skates show, children learn patriotism through the touching ‘red, white and blue’ group number, which includes 150 children each holding an American flag; they learn about heroism by working to raise money for different charities each year; and they learn about the importance of volunteerism by meeting their skating idols, all of whom volunteer their time to participate in the show and inspire kids to volunteer themselves.

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    I think Tara wrote a good leter, explaining some of how this came about. As she notes in her letter, the mission did change to the current one when the name of the foundation was changed, but I think it was always focused on giving back to the community, NOT on giving money to benefit 9/11 victims, so it would be wrong to spin this as if she/the foundation "took" something from 9/11 victims. That's not the case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by manleywoman View Post
    Fair enough. But tax records are tax records, no? (ETA: just saw your link to Schumer's site) If you promote it as a charity, the money (at least SOME money) should go to the charity! I get that operating costs are high, especially for a stadium show. And I do like how well I've seen her treat the performers. But there's got to be some accountability (or accounting ) for the money.
    I'm agreeing with you.
    My feeling is, I don't think she's a crook. I think she's not well organized and maybe ditzy. And I think she might have trusted the wrong people. But she seems like a decent person. I don't see her pocketing money for herself. I could be wrong, but it's the impression I get. Apparently she also teaches skating in addition to being an agent to a few skaters, Johnny's manager (must be lucrative to be his manager these days), and the producer of skating shows (haven't there been others). Maybe that's how she affords her Manhattan apartment. Something's fishy here, but I don't think it was deliberate on her part.

  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justathoughtabl View Post
    I checked the Stars, Stripes and Skates Web site and there's a letter from Tara (click the link at the site). She says that every dime the charity took in went back into producing the next show (not to the beneficiaries). Unfortunately a lot of charities spend their incomes on operating costs. It doesn't mean it's okay, though.
    If the NPO's main activity is now producing the skating shows, those aren't considered operating costs - they are program costs. Non-profits aren't all charities, and don't always involve giving money to other people.

    That said, the shift in mission and intent for this NPO looks a little like a bait-and-switch (although I do not think there was any malicious intent in it). Clearly people thought they were supporting a charity that would drive funds either to victims' families or to somehow provide awareness of 9/11 outside of these shows, so there was poor transparency about the organization.
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  18. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by Justathoughtabl View Post
    I'm agreeing with you.
    My feeling is, I don't think she's a crook. I think she's not well organized and maybe ditzy.
    That's my take away from all this too. Johnny's show does not leave a good impression in regards to her management skills and I get the impression that she really did not know about the new IRS regulations. Having done work for small non-profits, this type of disorganization is not uncommon.

  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justathoughtabl View Post
    I
    I don't see her pocketing money for herself.
    I doubt she did too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Justathoughtabl View Post
    Something's fishy here, but I don't think it was deliberate on her part.
    I don't think it was deliberate either. She's not an idiot by any fair stretch, she's quite smart, especially not dumb enough to deliberately get herself into trouble with the IRS. But the letter still doesn't answer some of the questions for me: No, her organization wasn't "singled out," yet she does admit things were wrongly filed, and that she missed a deadline when she was already under investigation. And at least in the original article she's quoted as saying where some of money went (libel perhaps if she was indeed misquoted) but still odd that the money would go to an expensive consultant rather than an accountant, if that statement is correct.

    Glad she has a new accountant though.

    Having run a few of my own businesses, you just don't mess with the IRS.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvia View Post
    Here's the direct link to Modlin's response letter (dated July 4, 2011): http://www.starsstripesandskates.org...SS_Message.pdf
    Well, at least she got a new accountant and is doing the tax filings. As for the rest - blah, blah, blah.

    She's now got 3 excuses going, the everybody-else-did-it excuse, the what-we-did-isn't-that-bad excuse, and the we're-the-victims excuse.

    How about misleading the public about the purpose of the show and where the money was really going? Did the show performers and others involved know the mission statement had been "restructured"? And as for the original families losing interest, I suspect the founders checked out after they realized that the money was not going to 9-11 families. As for who enlisted who, my understanding was that Tara and the Ielpis' daughter were good friends from childhood skating and that Tara and the daughter got together to produce the first show, using Tara's business connections. The Ielpi daughter skated in the first show. It wasn't clear who had the idea for the show first.

    And sorry, Tara, there is no libel here. I'm not a fan of tabloid journalism, but all the NY Post did was look at an official document, released by the IRS as part of their required disclosure, and wrote a story about what it said. I don't recall any statement about the charity being "singled out." If Tara doesn't want her reputation damaged, she shouldn't do things that damage her reputation.

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