October 19, 2016 — New documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) show that not only did the Trump Foundation’s attempts to address tax issues stemming from an illegal political donation to support Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi contain serious errors, they also presented materials to the New York Attorney General that raise significant questions about how they operate and the veracity of their previous claims.
Following a March 21 IRS complaint filed by CREW alleging both the illegal donation and false reporting on the Trump Foundation’s tax returns for failure to disclose the donation, Trump spokespeople admitted error, but claimed that it was the result of numerous innocent mistakes. They then claimed that they had corrected their 2013 taxes by filing IRS Form 4720 and paying a $2,500 fine. The IRS, however, told CREW that the Foundation never filed a form amending their 2013 taxes.
Despite the form being readily available, the Foundation did not file a 2013 Form 4720, instead opting for a 2015 form. The first line gives an option to fill in dates if the form is not being used for calendar year 2015. The Foundation wrote in the year “ending December 31, 2015,” which is why anyone looking for it within their 2013 tax returns would find no mention of the illegal donation [p. 15].
Things get worse for the Trump Foundation in documents they turned over to the NY AG. They have maintained since March that Trump staff (most likely Trump Organization staff, as the Foundation does not appear to employ anyone) looked up Bondi’s group, And Justice For All, in a book of charities—IRS Publication 78—and saw a Utah-based group with that name, and assumed the check was supposed to go to there (though they then claimed the money had gone to a separate Kansas group on their taxes). However, in June 2011, two years before Bondi solicited Trump, the IRS announced that foundations could “no longer rely on the paper version of Publication 78.” Amazingly, the version they told the NY AG they used is dated September 30, 2007, meaning they only considered charities that existed in 2007, and may have continued to do so up until 2016 [p. 29].
“We’re past the point where a reasonable person could believe this is just a never-ending series of once in a lifetime errors,” said CREW Communications Director Jordan Libowitz. “This may not be anything nefarious, but if it isn’t, that would mean that the Trump operation is completely inept when it comes to running the Trump Foundation.”
CREW acquired these documents in a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request with the New York Office of the Attorney General.