See updated story from our June 25 print issue:
NC Pride’s tax-exempt status revoked; M.I.A. director responds

DURHAM, N.C. — Efforts to reach the director of the NC Pride Fest and Parade have proven difficult for qnotes and other community members, even as the organization faces an uncertain future after the Internal Revenue Service automatically revoked the group’s tax-exempt status last week.

NC Pride Director John Short said last year his group was working to get IRS filings up-to-date. Last week, the IRS automatically revoked the group's tax-exempt status for failure to file the necessary annual returns. Photo Credit: Pam Spaulding/

On June 8, the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of more than 275,000 non-profit groups across the country including NC Pride. The revocations were automatic and required under a 2006 federal law that outlined penalties for organizations that failed to file annual returns with the IRS for at least three consecutive years.

Last year, it was revealed NC Pride had overlooked filing their annual returns, known as Forms 990, for several years. John Short, who has directed the more than 25-year-old event for the past decade, said at the time that he and an accountant would work to get the paperwork up to date.

qnotes reached out to Short last week and over the weekend, but he has not returned our requests for comment. Other community members say they, too, have had trouble getting in touch with Short.

Keith Hayes, who acted as the group’s media spokesperson, says that he has not been able to speak with Short regarding the IRS’ revocation. Yesterday, he resigned from his volunteer position with the organization.

“I am proud of the important contribution NC Pride makes for our community, not just in the Triangle and but across the state,” Hayes said in a statement to qnotes. “I am especially proud of the number of young and rural LGBT community members whom the event attracts  every year. However, I cannot continue as a spokesperson for an organization when I am not kept aware of the public issues it is facing.”

Bobby Hilburn, executive director of the LGBT Center of Raleigh, also says he has not spoken to Short in some time. Hilburn’s organization is aware of NC Pride’s situation and eager to assist.

“The LGBT Center is aware of the situation and will be looking for ways to assist NC Pride in its endeavors this fall,” Hilburn told qnotes. “The Center stands behind the event and will work tirelessly to ensure that it continues as it is a huge service and outlet to our LGBTQ Community. It would be irresponsible for us not to work to ensure its continuance.”

During qnotes‘ Community Assessment Survey last year, NC Pride self-reported estimated expenses and a budget of $65,000.

It remains unclear how NC Pride’s tax-exempt status revocation will affect its ability to mount a successful festival and parade this year. The group’s events are usually slated for the last weekend in September and primarily occur in Durham.

Organizations that received an automatic revocation must re-apply for tax-exempt status and pay the normally-required fees. The IRS has also established special procedures for some of the groups affected by the law. Groups like NC Pride, with annual revenues of $50,000 or more, can apply for retroactive reinstatement of their tax-exempt status, though the group must show reasonable cause for their failure to file annual returns. The IRS has also established processes for groups who believe their automatic tax-exempt revocation was made in error.

Other LGBT organizations in North Carolina also received automatic revocation of their tax-exempt status but those seem to be defunct. More than 6,300 other formerly tax-exempt organizations in North Carolina received similar automatic revocations this week. : :

more: Stay tuned to for more on this developing story.


Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

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