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Baltimore’s Book Thing loses tax-exempt status, will temporarily shut down

The Book Thing of Baltimore lost its nonprofit status and will be temporarily shutting down after the new year, according to a statement posted to its website.

The Book Thing is stocked with thousands upon thousands of free books, and is a much-beloved resource for families and teachers. Every weekend, the un-air-conditioned warehouse in the Abell neighborhood in North Baltimore is packed with people loading up tote bags full of donated novels, textbooks and children’s stories.

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But as of Jan. 1, The Book Thing will be going into a “hibernation period,” according to the statement. “The bottom line is that The Book Thing we all love is going through a challenging transition,” it reads. The last day to donate or pick up books is Sunday.

The Book Thing’s federal tax exemption was automatically revoked by the Internal Revenue Service for failure to file a Form 990-series annual return or notice for three consecutive years, according to documents published on the IRS website. A spokesman with the agency declined to comment on any specific organization’s status.

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The Book Thing is “currently working with an accountant to file back paperwork, achieve retroactive nonprofit reinstatement, and implement procedures to prevent anything like this from happening in the future." The post promised more details would come soon.

The organization’s executive director declined to comment. Book Thing board members did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We do NOT intend to change the fundamental nature of The Book Thing," the statement reads. "Lots of free books!”

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