first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: John Jackson greets a Christmas that he wasn’t sure he’d see160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LAGUNA NIGUEL — The foundation that organized Snowball Express, a holiday for 900 family members of U.S. soldiers killed in the Middle East, is not officially recognized as a nonprofit charity, its officials said Monday. The group’s literature indicated that Snowball Express donations were tax-deductible — a claim that legally cannot be made unless a group has received tax-exempt status. The M. Scott Kerr Foundation has a federal corporate tax number but its officers, Michael and Jean Kerr, say they unwittingly failed to file an Internal Revenue Service form seeking tax-exempt status. The foundation also is not a recognized charitable trust in California. That leaves in doubt whether donors can claim tax deductions. The Snowball Express effort received an estimated $1 million in “in-kind” contributions such as donated food or supplies. About $100,000 in cash contributions has been made to the foundation itself. “We were so focused on the mission that maybe we forgot to submit a piece of paperwork,” Michael Kerr, a 47-year-old Laguna Niguel resident, said in a telephone interview. Kerr and his wife first acknowledged they had never filed the IRS form in a recent interview with National Public Radio. His wife said the couple received bad advice about the process of submitting the tax form. “We were aware that it had to be done. I thought we had 27 months to do it,” she said. “It was ignorance … We’re not scammers,” she said. “We are perfectly willing to return every single penny from everyone.” The Kerrs said they are now working with accountants and lawyers and intend to file the necessary paperwork this week. Kerr’s foundation, along with Orange County Rotary Clubs that do have nonprofit status, raised money to bring families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan to the region earlier this month for an all-expenses paid week. They went to Disneyland, a hockey game, a Christmas pageant and on shopping sprees. None of the contributors has asked for their money back or demanded an accounting, Jeannie Kerr said. “We just wanted to bring 300 widows and 600 children out for the time of their life because we believe in it,” she said. She said about $20,000 of the donations have been used to pay expenses and about $80,000 remains in a bank account. The couple also spent $10,000 or more of their own money to rent buses and pay other expenses and have not been reimbursed, she said.last_img read more