Three agents from the Criminal Investigation Section of Colorado Department of Revenue were at the El Paso County budget department Thursday seeking information about former County Commissioner Douglas Bruce.
According to an e-mail written by Nicola Sapp, the county’s financial services director, the agents asked about Bruce’s “charitable” donations and “any meetings that were held related to that topic. … They requested copies of his W-2 and W-4 (forms) …”
A spokesman for the Criminal Investigation Division declined to comment.
“Tax records are all confidential, and if we were in fact conducting such an investigation, it would be foolish of us to talk about it,” said Mark Couch, a CID public information officer.
During his tenure on the board of commissioners, Bruce contributed 100 hundred percent of his payroll checks to Active Citizens Together, a nonprofit organization he founded several years ago.
“It is unusual for someone to give away his entire paycheck, as I did, so I suppose that they want to verify it,” Bruce said this afternoon. “But that’s what I promised during my campaign (for county commissioner) and that’s what I did.”
He also said that he had not heard about a Department of Revenue investigation.
Active Citizens Together’s Web site describes the organization as “a nonprofit educational corporation funded solely by tax-deductible donations … whose mission is to educate the citizens of Colorado on the workings of government and how they can influence government at all levels within the state of Colorado.”
Contributions to a 501(c)3 are deductible from both state and federal taxes, but political contributions are not.
Bruce said that Active Citizens Together has been a 501(c)3 charitable organization for more than seven years, “and yes, we have a letter of determination from the IRS (confirming the charity’s status).”
He also said that sending three agents to check publicly available documents seemed like overkill.
“They could have just asked the county to mail them copies of my paychecks,” Bruce said, “I suppose that they’re public, since my salary is public. It would have saved them money.”
Deborah Helton, an accountant with BiggsKofford P.C., said this doesn’t seem like a “usual” tax issue.
“They usually just send you a letter, to begin with,” she said. “And this kind of action – I’ve never experienced it, and neither have any of my clients.”