10/14/11

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Initial meeting - Friday, 10/14, 5:00pm

 

Prior to this initial meeting: Gregg Housh met in NYC with OWS Finance Committee.  Pete, on OWS Fin Cmte, then called Lisa and sent her copies of some forms OWS uses. 

OWS established a fiscal sponsorship before they ever pitched a tent.  Now they are investigating creating their own Association.   They are starting to reach out to other Occupy locations to offer financial advice so that we don’t all have to reinvent the wheel. 

Occupy Boston Financial WG agreed that Boston is in no way obligated to follow the same systems as OWS but they can inform what we do here.

Lisa - Why we care about these finance issues:

Short term: need a system, need accountability. Money going in and out. Don’t want to open an account in an individual’s name, because then that person would be liable for taxes, etc.  OB’s WePay accounts are now in individuals’ names. (Additional people have “view” access to the We Pay accounts to  audit cash flow.) OB should move away from that system to accounting for the money as Occupy Boston’s.

Greg – secure email list underway. Secure place for fin docs.   Commonwealth of Mass has strict laws protecting donors’ privacy and financial record security.  Need to make sure that donors’ info is kept private and secure.

 Fiscal sponsorship option.  Fiscal sponsor handles back office work, keeps all the records, that’s a lot of work that they would do so that OB would not have to do it ourselves.  Need to reach out to orgs to see if they are even interested in talking to us about this.  Goal is to have several options for GA. (Note – one org already said 'No'.)  Best options would be local/Massachusetts orgs due to legal/tax differences between states.  Occupy movements in NYC, Dallas, Miami, Chicago, D.C. all have fiscal sponsors. That is the overwhelming trend.

 Another option is to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation or other kind of non-profit corporation.  That takes a lot of time and a lot of paperwork; not a short-term solution; would need another solution in the interim even if that was the end goal.  Downside to becoming an incorporated entity is that we would no longer have any right to be in Dewey Square because we would not be the public.

Association option.   NYC going for this option.

Four people on the phone from New York via Lisa's cell phone:

We can declare an unincorporated association.  Would need signers.  Questions arose of differences between NY law and MA law on associations.  With more than $5000, must we become an entity?  We need to talk to a tax attorney specialist. NLG deals with criminal and free speech issues not tax.  Jason suggested AVP lawyer who had been on site. Stephanie will reach out to him.

Question – can we open a credit union checking account before we decide on any of these options?  What requirements are there?  Paul will research.

Short term options:

  1. NY/MA law on Associations may be different.  Talk to MA tax lawyer & figure out details & if that’s an option to propose to GA.
  2. Research fiscal sponsors, especially ones in MA.  Work out details (what is the fee?, etc) & decide which ones worth proposing to GA.