CREW files IRS complaint against Branstad-led nonprofit
CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington — America’s Renewable Future, Inc. appears to have violated the Internal Revenue Code by failing to file its 2015 and 2016 tax returns despite raising and spending significant amounts of money during those years, including political spending during the 2016 presidential primaries, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Eric Branstad, a political consultant and former Trump Administration official, served as the group’s president in 2014.
America’s Renewable Future engaged in significant fundraising and political spending during both 2015 and 2016. Other tax records show the organization’s 2015 receipts were well over a million dollars, and the group spent significant amounts around the 2016 presidential primaries, including nearly $300,000 in reported political spending in 2016. Despite this activity, America’s Renewable Future failed to file Form 990 tax returns for either 2015 and 2016, as required by the federal tax code.
America’s Renewable Future’s failure to file tax returns for 2015 and 2016 appears to be willful. The group’s history of filing its 2014 Form 990 and the experience of its officers and agents with tax-exempt organizations and filing Form 990 tax returns show they were aware of its obligation to file annual tax returns. In addition, CREW notified America’s Renewable Future and its officers and agents of their requirement to file Form 990 tax returns, and their responses show they understood their obligations. When CREW called Mr. Branstad to request the forms in April 2018, he expressed surprise that they were not available, while the group’s attorney claimed to CREW, apparently incorrectly, the tax returns had been filed.
“By not filing their tax returns, America’s Renewable Future is blocking one of the few avenues of transparency for politically active nonprofits,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “The annual tax returns are essential for determining whether nonprofit organizations are abusing their tax-exempt status to keep secret those who are influencing elections. The IRS should investigate and take appropriate action if violations are found.”