Maui Tomorrow corrects noncompliance with law

Maui Tomorrow Foundation was put on notice earlier this year that it has not been complying with state law requiring registered charitable organizations to submit annual financial reports to the state Department of the Attorney General.

The foundation is well known on the Valley Isle for successfully challenging real estate development projects for failing to follow legal procedures.

On Thursday, foundation Executive Director Irene Bowie said that as soon as the matter was brought to her attention she contacted state attorneys and “immediately got them all the required forms.”

State Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones confirmed Thursday that the foundation has come into compliance and that his office honored a request from Maui Tomorrow to waive any penalties.

He added that the organization has paid its annual fees.

Maui Tomorrow Foundation has been embroiled in some high-profile and controversial matters over the years involving development projects. The foundation has taken developers to task for not following proper government procedures.

The foundation was one of the groups that challenged the state over allowing the Hawaii Superferry to sail without completing an environmental impact statement.

Currently, the foundation is one of the interveners challenging a large South Maui mall development, maintaining that developers did not meet project conditions set out by the state Land Use Commission. The commission agreed that some of the conditions imposed were not met. The issue is still pending before the LUC.

In a letter to Bowie dated Feb. 14, the state said that the organization is required to submit a financial report (IRS Form 990/990EZ) and an audited financial statement if the gross revenues of the charity are more than $500,000.

The foundation had not submitted the required financial report since it was registered in the state, beginning in fiscal year 2009 and through 2011, the letter said.

“It was an oversight on my part, and all tax forms have always been filed in a timely manner,” Bowie said. “It was a misunderstanding between our CPA and myself in filing the 990s (to the state).”

She said that she thought her accountant was taking care of filing the reports.

Since the problem with filing tax documents has surfaced, Bowie said she has developed a calendar to make sure the organization is in compliance.

“I would say we take compliance very seriously,” she said. “We regret this had been an oversight and a misunderstanding and appreciate the attorney general’s office working with us.”

Bowie said that she wanted to assure donors that their gifts are “very much appreciated.”

“I want to assure everyone those funds are spent appropriately and wisely,” she said.

According to online financial forms, the foundation has received various donations over the years including some up to $50,000 from individuals and $125,000 from an organization. Donations have come from Hawaii as well as the Mainland.

According to its website, Maui Tomorrow Foundation works with government and citizens to teach and promote growth management strategies to implement sustainable development policies for Maui and to preserve irreplaceable open space and natural areas.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at