Tonawanda News

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July 13, 2014

Community Missions tackles tax liens

Tonawanda News — NIAGARA FALLS — Community Missions of Niagara Frontier, Inc. is faced with a taxing problem. 

Representatives from the city’s largest provider of services to the poor and homeless say it started a few years ago when they were forced to make a difficult decision: Use funds on hand to meet the organization’s tax obligations or continue to provide meals, shelter and counseling to needy individuals in Niagara Falls. 

Officials from Community Missions say they chose the latter, eventually leading to the organization falling behind on taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service. The decision has had lasting consequences for the organization, which now has liens against its property and has entered into a repayment agreement aimed at making good on hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding tax debt.

“We felt we were forced into a choice,” said the organization’s longtime Executive Director Robyn Krueger. “Neither choice was reasonable.”

The IRS levied two tax liens against Community Missions in 2012 totaling more than $516,000, according to records on file with the Niagara County Clerk. The agency entered into an agreement with the federal agency immediately after liens were filed and has since been working to pay the back taxes that will see the debt paid in full by the end of 2018, according to a 2012 audit of the organization from the accounting firm Swiantek & Kling LLP.

The tax situation also has had a direct impact on Krueger herself. 

Documents on file with Niagara County show she had  tax liens totaling nearly $200,000 applied to her own personal property in Lockport as a result of the failure to pay taxes in full at the Mission. Under state law, executive directors can be held personally liable for taxes owed by the organizations they serve. 

Krueger said she was well aware of the possible outcome of choosing to continue providing services instead of paying the Missions’ taxes, but pressed on anyhow.

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