Trump faces new questions about charity finances
If he used his charity as a slush fund to pay taxes he could be in big trouble.
A new Washington Post report this week presented cases where Trump directed third parties to pay monies owed to him or his businesses directly to the Donald J. Trump Foundation–monies that arguably should have been taxed as income to Trump.
The Trump campaign has said that the payments were all aboveboard and proper, and slammed the Post’s reporter for trafficking in speculation about possible but not proven legal problems. All of this comes against the backdrop of Trump refusing to release his tax returns, a stance unprecedented among modern major party presidential nominees. Without those tax returns, the exact handling of the payments and any associated taxes remains murky.
But tax experts interviewed by TPM said the new revelations by the Post include a number of red flags. At best, the practice could be described as sloppy and driven by an extreme ignorance of the law, the experts said. At worst, it fits into a pattern of using the charity as a personal piggy bank. On their own, such allegations could be dealt with a minor slap on the wrist, but coupled with the Post’s previously surfaced examples of Trump using foundation money for his own benefit they fuel major concerns about how Trump’s charity has operated.
Seth Perlman of Perlman and Perlman, a New York City firm that specializes in nonprofit law, said that accusations that Trump was illegally directing fees to his charity are tough to prove and not totally unheard of in the non-profit world.
“It becomes really troubling, however, if he was diverting or pushing fees to a nonprofit and using those fees to benefit himself. That becomes a much more serious problem,” Perlman said.