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Illinois Thinks That Kartemquin Films Makes Propaganda Movies

Illinois Thinks That Kartemquin Films Makes Propaganda Movies

Kartemquin Educational Films, propagandist?

That’s the opinion of the Illinois Dept. of Revenue, which has denied the Chicago-based nonprofit documentary company that produced “The Interrupters” and “Hoop Dreams” a tax-exempt status for the “making and selling of propaganda DVDs.”

Kartemquin previously applied for exemption in 2007 and 2010 and tried again for 2012. This time, the state told Kartemquin director of finance and operations Suzanne Niemoth that the two prior denials meant there could be no further review of the application — and that the reason for the rejection was “making and selling of propaganda DVDs.”

Organizations that qualify for sales tax exemption in Illinois must satisfy at least one of these criteria:

  • Be organized and operated exclusively for charitable, religious or educational purposes
  • Have no compensated officers or employees and be operated primarily for the recreation of persons 55 years of age and older
  • Be a not-for-profit 501(c)3 musical, theatrical or arts and cultural service organization

Kartemquin’ Executive Director Justine Nagan states in response, “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.”

Kartemquin has been advised that it can request a hearing for further review, which the company plans to review.

Indiewire has contacted the Illinois Dept. of Revenue for comment; we’ll update this story with their response.

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