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IRS apologizes for mistakenly saying Rosa Parks charity wasn’t tax exempt

October 4, 1997

DETROIT (AP) _ The Internal Revenue Service has apologized to a charity named after civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks for mistakenly saying the group was not tax exempt.

``The IRS regrets any inconvenience caused to the organization and is working to rectify the situation,″ IRS spokesman Bob Kobel said Friday.

He would only say the mistake was the result of a ``misinterpretation of data.″

Officials at the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development said in a statement they were pleased the situation had been righted but that the mistake had resulted in poor publicity for them.

The institute runs a civil rights bus tour that commemorates how Mrs. Parks galvanized the movement in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus.

``The IRS is much in the news today because it has not paid enough attention to treating people fairly,″ the institute said. ``Its tactics _ and media coverage surrounding the issue _ has called into question the reputations of a dedicated institution and dedicated people.″

The apology comes after congressional hearings last month in Washington revealed stories of harassment and abuse of taxpayers by the IRS.

State investigators are continuing to look into why the institute is not licensed as a charity in Michigan and what its relationship is to another fund-raising group named after Mrs. Parks.

``I don’t understand how it’s operating, and that’s one of the things I’ve asked them,″ Marion Gorton, administrator for the state attorney general’s charitable trust section, said of The Parks Legacy, a fund-raising corporation formed in 1995.

The institute has never been licensed to solicit or receive money as a charity in the state of Michigan. The group was denied such a license when it was founded in 1987, but continued to operate and solicit funds, Gorton said.

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