The Illinois Department of Revenue has denied Kartemquin Films a tax exemption for its not-for-profit status, because it makes and sells “propaganda DVDs,” according to the Chicago-based prodco.
The company, which is behind acclaimed docs such as Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters and In The Family, Tweeted on Friday (April 12): “We were just denied nonprofit sales tax exemption by IL Dept. of Revenue due to our “making & selling of propaganda DVDs.””
The rejection comes after Kartemquin’s previous unsuccessful attempts to apply for sales tax exemption status in 2007 and 2010. Organizations can qualify for exemption in Illinois if they meet the criteria of being “a not-for-profit 501(c)3 musical, theatrical or arts and cultural service organization.”
However, this alone does not guarantee exemption status. A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Revenue told the Chicago Sun Times that “the only way you get a sales tax exemption is if you’re a school or a charity. And it doesn’t sound like they’re either one.”
However, in a statement, Kartemquin’s executive director Justine Nagan said: “We are proud of our 501(c)3 federal not-for-profit status and fully stand by our charitable mission.
“While we understand that the state of IL narrowly defines the definition of a tax exempt organization, we regret that the reason provided by the state was distribution of propaganda, which we find to be grossly inaccurate.”
A spokesperson for Kartemquin told realscreen that the organization has been approached with offers of support from a number of prominent documentary organizations, and is gathering further information before deciding how best to proceed.