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SEM Response Regarding 990 Filing

Tuesday, June 4, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephanie Sturgis
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It has come to our attention that people have been posting on social media about the Society for Ethnomusicology’s 990 (a filing required by the IRS) from 2016, pointing to the “other expenses” figure ($292,750) and raising questions about financial transparency.



The referenced figure—on p. 1, line 17 of the 990—is a sum of many reported figures, and the IRS requires nonprofits to aggregate them in this way. The form references Part IX. Scrolling down the same form to Part IX (p. 10), one finds the specific details behind the numbers.

Three-quarters of the “other expenses” are the cost of the Annual Meeting  ($153,041) and the journal Ethnomusicology ($63,495), the two primary missions of SEM. Other major expenses include banking and brokerage fees (which include charges levied on SEM when people pay for membership or the conference with credit cards, investment management fees for the endowment, etc., $21,242), program fees ($14,883), travel ($12,889), accounting ($7,530), information technology ($7,233), and so forth. The only “other” category of expense left is “all other expenses” (line 24e), which is $1,083—only 0.2% of total expenses.


An even more detailed account of SEM’s income and expenses can be found on the SEM website, under members’ area/SEM documents/Audited financial statements. Looking at these statements for the 2016-2017 academic year reveals that the “all other expenses” of $1,083 is “renewal expenses” (the expense of mailing renewal notices to the membership). Detailed figures are also made available in the booklet for the annual membership meeting, which is also available on the website.  



SEM is committed to transparency. We invite any questions and concerns regarding the financial management of the Society to be directed to the President and Treasurer.



Noriko Manabe

Treasurer, Society for Ethnomusicology

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