Charity Scams: 'Simply Isn't The Manpower' Devoted To Uncovering Them

December 30, 2010

Mark Memmott

This is the time of year when many of us, for altruistic and tax reasons, are thinking about giving money to charity.

And most of the organizations Americans choose to support are honest outfits that do good deeds and spend their money wisely.

Then there are the horror stories, like the one that the St. Petersburg Times has been covering for much of the past year.

Reporters John Testerman and John Martin uncovered the shocking tale of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, which raised tons of money even though "almost all" of what it claimed "was made up."

The Times has much more about its long investigation posted here.

For a Morning Edition conversation due to air Friday, host Renee Montagne asked Testerman if the IRS is changing any of the ways it monitors what charities and nonprofits are up to.

Testerman said the Times' reporting indicates the answer is no. A former top IRS official, he said, told the newspaper that "the resources of the IRS are directed toward private taxpayers and businesses where billions ... of dollars can be recouped in tax exams and audits. If you went after every one of the ... nonprofits and turned up a few problems here and there ... you might recoup tens of millions [of dollars]. It doesn't compare at all. And so there's a priority about where IRS resources should go."

Here's that part of their conversation:

Much more is due on tomorrow's show. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams Morning Edition. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.