Select Case Studies

Specific examples of how Harmon Burstyn, CPA has helped some of his nonprofit clients.

Reconstructing Missing Accounting Records for Audit

During a period of significant management change at the organization it was discovered that there were virtually no accounting records to be found. Prior management kept no documents or files related to income and expenses, assets, or liabilities. The organization was also subject to the financial audit rules governed by the California "Nonprofit Integrity Act" and had never had such an audit prepared. Along with a contract bookkeeper I hired, we reconstructed a year’s worth of financial information to create an income statement and balance sheet. The auditor conducted its financial audit and the organization received a “clean” opinion.

Eliminating IRS Fees & Penalties

An organization had failed to file over 350 Form 1099’s in a timely fashion. The IRS penalized them $37,000 in late filing fees. I assisted the client with responding to the IRS with an explanation of why the forms were late and how we have implemented processes to avoid any future late filings. The $37,000 penalty was completely waived by the IRS.

Documenting Compensation

A client wanted to make significant changes to how it compensated its top management. Knowing compensation is a “sensitive” area for non-profits, they reached out to me for advice. We created documentation providing evidence on our diligence regarding comparability data, review and approval by independent persons, and substantiation of the deliberation and decision.

Reinstating and Maintaining Tax-Exempt Status

Numerous organizations have approached me over time because of their tax-exemption being revoked by the IRS. In one such case, they had failed to file tax returns for 3 consecutive years. I worked with them and the IRS to successfully get the tax-exempt status reinstated. They remain in good standing with me preparing the tax returns on a timely basis.

Setting Best Practices

Wanting to follow best practices, a client and I worked on creating an “accounting manual” to document the policies and procedures for cash disbursements, cash receipts, payroll, tax compliance, and budgeting. Adhering to these practices allows them to maintain their tax-exempt status, creates an easier defense against audits, and provides reassurance to donors that management is taking appropriate care to ensure the integrity of the organization and its mission.

"Harmon has been a great help to us. He is extremely knowledgeable about nonprofit accounting and tax law, and very responsive to all of our questions. He also helped us get a large IRS penalty waived, which a prior tax advisor had caused. I would recommend him without reservation!"

Josh Black

"Harmon Burstyn has been the CPA for United Roots youth organization in Oakland for over 5 years. He is one of the friendliest and most supportive accountants we have ever worked with, and we highly recommend his services. He is extremely knowledgeable about filing taxes and organizational accounting protocol. He is reliable and consistent, and very easy to work with. United Roots is excited to continue our partnership with Harmon Burstyn, CPA."

Galen Silvestri, Co-Founder & Executive Director
United Roots: Oakland's Youth Impact HUB

"Harmon has been a great asset to Walk SF. He's extremely knowledgeable, responsive and very thoughtful, too! Harmon has done our accounting for years, and every year the process is seamless, quick and painless -- what more can you ask for when it comes to taxes? I'd certainly recommend Harmon to other small non-profits. His prices are competitive and the results are well worth it."

Nicole Ferrara, Executive Director
Walk SF