Jewish charity loses tax-exempt status

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UPDATE – Contributions made to The Yehuda Mond Foundation are tax deductible through its affiliation with Woodside Synagogue Ahavas Torah.

Since its inception, the foundation has had a verbal agreement to accept donations as an integrated auxiliary of the Silver Spring synagogue. That agreement was formalized last week, following a meeting of the synagogue board.


The letter, signed by Woodside Synagogue Ahavas Torah President Noah Hochstadt, states that the synagogue “is proud of its affiliation with the Foundation, which since its inception, has been an integrated auxiliary of Woodside Synagogue Ahavas Torah. Our distinguished Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz was instrumental in supporting the establishment of the Foundation.”
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A foundation in Silver Spring, which helps the needy, lost its tax-exempt status more than a year ago but continues to accept donations without properly informing its donors.

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The Yehuda Mond Foundation of Ahavas Torah, which was established following the death of teenager Yehuda Mond, is appealing the Internal Revenue’s decision and claims it is merely a matter of mistakenly checking the wrong box on one governmental form that caused the group to have its tax status revoked. The group further claims it is under the auspices of Woodside Synagogue-Ahavas Torah and therefore doesn’t even need to file with the IRS.

“The Yehuda Mond Foundation of Ahavas Torah’s tax exempt status was revoked on May 15, 2012,” according to Peggy Riley, an IRS media relations specialist. “As of that day, taxpayers can no longer take a charitable deduction for any donations made to the organization,” Riley wrote in an email to Washington Jewish Week. Yehuda Mond has a budget of about $100,000 a year and helps 32 families at the present time, said a spokesman for the foundation who asked not to be identified.


Whenever Yehuda Mond Foundation hears about a needy family, which more often than not is an Orthodox person living in the Silver Spring area, the organization works to make sure that family has a Shabbat or holiday meal and often further helps them out by providing a weekly stipend until the family is out of financial trouble, the spokesman noted. That program run by the foundation is called Tomchei Shabbos of Greater Washington.

A representative from Yehuda Mond conceded that its tax-exempt status had been revoked. He explained that the organization’s former attorney checked an incorrect box on an IRS form, which created the problem.

“There was literally one checked box that we missed. We are working on it,” the man, who asked that his name not be used, said. “It’s crazy how one little check” can cause such havoc.

“We are still a nonprofit” as an auxiliary to Woodside Synagogue, the spokesman insisted.

Noah Hochstadt, president of that synagogue in Silver Spring, sent an email to Washington Jewish Week that reads, “The Yehuda Mond Foundation of Ahavas Torah, Inc. is an organization that does great chesed for this community. We do not wish to comment on this matter.”

Nothing comes up when Yehuda Mond is typed into the search area on the synagogue’s website — nor is anything listed concerning the foundation on the synagogue’s website page that explains how to make a donation through the synagogue.

If Yehuda Mond is listed as an integrated auxiliary of the synagogue, it would be exempt, according to the IRS. But that is not how it currently is listed with the IRS.

Two Woodside Synagogue members, who were in the parking lot Friday following morning minyan, said that as far as they knew, the synagogue is not affiliated with Yehuda Mond Foundation.

The foundation, which originally was set up in 2006 to honor the memory of Yehuda Mond, sent a letter to the IRS in July asking for reinstatement of its tax-exempt status.

Foundation members are responding to the IRS themselves and currently are not using an attorney or tax specialist.

The IRS has not yet responded to the July letter.

On its website, Yehuda Mond lists three ways to donate — online, by phone or by mail. On that same page, it notes “Yehuda Mond Foundation of Ahavas Torah is a 501c3 tax-exempt organization.” It also notes that “Tax receipts will be mailed in January for the previous year.”

The foundation’s Web page lists the many programs it supports including one that helps new couples start a home by providing household items. Under its new baby package, the foundation supplies strollers and infant car seats.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Regardless of its status people should still donate to it. The Torah doesn’t mention tax deductions when it talks about tithing.

  2. Just another example of how messed-up the IRS is. Everyone in the Silver Spring knows that the Yehuda Mond Foundation is a non-profit charity organization. It seems preposterous that the IRS would revoke its non-profit status for such a small matter. Either that, or someone in the IRS doesn’t like a person involved.

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