Strive tax form raises questions

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Strive tax form raises questions

Board secretary not sure why form says group's board reviewed, approved Tim Singleton's pay
By RACHEL HEATON
rheaton@beaufortgazette.com
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011   |  822 Words  |  

Strive to Excel's most recent federal tax return indicates the organization's board reviewed and approved an increase to its president's compensation, even though the board held no formal meeting that year.

Board secretary Tom Gardo could not explain the apparent discrepancy when asked Thursday about information the group provided on its federal Form 990 for the fiscal year that ended May 31, 2010.

That form indicated that compensation for Tim Singleton, Strive's president and CEO, rose from $97,000 to more than $138,000. It also indicates that his pay was determined after "a review and approval" by its board and that records of that decision were kept.

The form for the preceding fiscal year also indicates such review took place.

However, Strive's meeting minutes indicate its board did not hold a formal meeting between April 2008 and September 2011, a span covering both tax years.

Strive's bylaws require the board to approve any change in compensation for its president. Its bylaws and state law governing nonprofit organizations require the board to meet at least once a year.

"There was no meeting to review (Singleton's compensation) as far as I know," Gardo said Thursday, adding he has not reviewed the tax form himself.

Strive's board was re-formed in September, and new president Ike Evans and new treasurer Robert Trask reviewed the organization's tax returns and other financial documents during that the period in which no formal meeting was held, Gardo said.

It is not clear if Evans and Trask determined information on those forms was inaccurate. Gardo has said they discovered a few missing records but no major problems.

The group in September filed an amended tax return for fiscal year 2008. However, responses to questions about the procedure used to determine Singleton's compensation were not changed, according to a brief review of the filing Thursday by Bob Arundell, the local tax attorney and former Beaufort County Board of Education member who files Strive's taxes.

No amended form for fiscal year 2009 has been filed, Arundell said.

Arundell and Singleton signed both tax forms. Attempts Thursday to reach Singleton were unsuccessful.

Arundell said that when he filed the returns, he believed them to be accurate. The Strive board has not given him permission to answer specific questions about the group's finances, he added.

Gardo said Arundell will continue to handle Strive's taxes. The board has asked to review future filings before they are submitted to the IRS, Arundell said.

Strive has asked for a three-month extension to file tax returns for the 2010-11 fiscal year. The IRS allows an automatic three-month extension, and Strive has used that extension in the past.

The mentoring group, which has operated out of Hilton Head Island High School since it was founded about a decade ago, is being forced to vacate its free office space at the school by Dec. 31. The district also will no longer provide payroll services or allow Singleton to participate in its health care plan. Strive already has been removed from the district's liability policy and secured its own insurance, Gardo has said.

Singleton's nine-year tenure as Seahawk football coach ended with his firing Nov. 22, after a year in which he was suspended by the school, his program was fined and penalized by the S.C. High School League, and questions were raised about his mingling of Strive and football finances.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.


Related content

  1. Strive spokesman says board won't answer questions about past finances; Nov. 23, 2011
  2. Strive to Excel files for tax deadline extension; Oct. 17, 2011
  3. Sources: Singleton has long muddled mission, finances of Strive, football; Oct. 2, 2011
  4. Superintendent announces Strive to Excel changes; Sept. 20, 2011
  5. Singleton says pay did not increase; Aug. 31, 2011
  6. Probation, $500 fine for Seahawks, SC High School League rules; Aug. 30, 2011
  7. Salary for nonprofit head comes under scrutiny; Aug. 29, 2011