MANSFIELD, Conn. (AP) – A Connecticut high school teacher who raised $ 41,000 to help hundreds of his struggling neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic was given an unwelcome surprise for his charity efforts: a form stated that he had $ 16,031 in income tax was due.
Louis Goffinet, 27, of Mansfield, began running errands for elderly neighbors who feared going to the store during the early days of the pandemic, often spending his own money. Given the dire need, he later organized two Facebook fundraisers in a year and helped hundreds of families with groceries, rent and holiday gifts, reported the Hartford Courant, which set a limit of $ 200.
Goffinet said both the financial support for his efforts and the demand for help got higher than he initially expected. He tracked 140 grocery trips on a spreadsheet and noted that he also gave 125 families Friday night dinners, Christmas gift cards for 20 families so they could buy gifts for their children, 31 Thanksgiving dinners, and rental assistance to five families. Some local businesses donated food.
“It got dramatically bigger than I thought,” he said. “My original goal was to raise $ 200 to help a family with groceries. I was already doubting myself when I set that, that people in town don’t want to pay for someone else’s groceries. “
In January, Facebook sent Goffinet a 1099 form stating that he was taxed on the money he collected. Facebook is warning users that money generated from a fundraising campaign on the social media platform may be taxable if more than $ 20,000 is raised and a 1099 tax form will be issued.
“I was so shocked,” Goffinet told the Courant. “When I think about the mental place I was in at the end of January, when I got a second fundraiser, it was quite a lot of work – busy Thanksgiving weekends, Christmas gifts – getting what I saw as a bill in the mail. $ 16,000 was just shocking. ”
Goffinet is now working with a local accountant to determine how best to address the situation. His bill is due on May 17, and he expects to pay “some sort of tax burden,” but isn’t sure how much. Meanwhile, some people in the community are now trying to help him with the tax bill, so far they are sending $ 2,000 in checks to a PO Box – not through Facebook.