Questions About Latino Chamber Tax Return

| News | August 10, 2017

After much delay, the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce last week filed the 2014 Internal Revenue Service Form 990 for the Latino Chamber. As far as SCV Chamber Chairman John Musella is concerned, the matter is closed.

“The issue has been resolved and the chamber has no further comment on the matter,” Musella wrote in a press release last week. Later last week, he repeated that after the Gazette analyzed the form and found inconsistencies.

An analysis of the form revealed it answered some questions and left others unanswered. Largest among the unanswered questions: Where is the money that came over from the Latino Chamber when it merged with the SCV Chamber?

The tax forms show a net loss of two dollars, so how could between $1,000 and $2,000 – the amount former SCV Chamber CEO Terri Crain recalled – have come into the chamber coffers? Crain told the Gazette back in March that the money went toward membership for the Latino Chamber members who were now SCV Chamber members.

Speaking of membership dues, the Form 990 lists no membership dues and assessments for 2014. There’s a discrepancy, considering the Latino Chamber’s own Statement of Financial Income and Expense (FIE) for July-December 2014 lists $2,050 in membership income. The FIE form is the same one Latino Chamber treasurer Marlon Roa gave the Gazette in May after CEO Bill Miranda told Roa to find some numbers. Roa found the FIE, submitted it to Miranda, who approved it. Where did that money go?


Under “Salaries, other compensation, and employee benefits” on the Form 990, the Latino Chamber paid $3,651. Yet, on the second page, none of the eight officers listed show having been paid.

Finally, under “Occupancy, rent, utilities, and maintenance,” Form 990 shows the Latino Chamber paid $15,549. But the Latino Chamber occupied no building. It existed as an entity without a physical space. What occupancy or rent could there be?

Actually, there is a possible answer: The FIE shows that the Latino Chamber paid the Hyatt $14,378.63 for its Sept. 2014 gala. Could this be it? If so, what about the $1,170.37 difference? It’s hard to know, since Musella won’t comment.

Things That Check Out
Much of the return deals with the expenses from the September 2014 gala, and thanks to the FIE, it is easy to see that much of what is on the FIE matches the Form 990. In fact, five items match exactly and four others are within a dollar. Only one item, office expenses, has a greater amount on the FIE than the Form 990 ($108.15 to $68).

There are only two that are way off: Advertising/Promotion ($885 on Form 990, not listed on FIE) and Networking Mixer ($689 on Form 990, $255 on FIE, but again, the FIE is for six months).

Also, the tax return shows the chamber raised $36,760 under “program service revenue including government fees and contracts.” According to the FIE, the 2014 gala grossed $34,440, so this is close (although it’s not certain the numbers are the same, as no one at the chamber’s commenting).

Under “Professional fees and other payments to independent contractors,” the Latino Chamber paid $11,768. The FIE shows Bill Miranda was paid $6,000 for the second six months of 2014. Assuming he received the same in the first half, that’s only a $232 difference.

Also, under “sponsorship income,” the numbers match: $1,500 on each form.



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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

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