Both presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, have come under scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service for running afoul of rules governing tax-exempt foundations.
In the case of Trump, his Donald J. Trump Foundation reportedly was forced to pay a $2,500 penalty to the IRS for making a $25,000 contribution in 2013 to a group supporting the reelection of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, according to the Washington Post. The contribution was made around the same time Bondi was reportedly considering an investigation of Trump University, which has been accused of fleecing students. Bondi decided not to pursue the fraud investigation. Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty for the donation and agreed to reimburse his foundation for the $25,000 contribution.
His campaign claimed his foundation’s accountant made a mistake by listing a charity known as “Justice for All” as the recipient of the donation on its tax return, instead of the Bondi political action group, “And Justice for All.” Bondi for her part has denied that the gift had any influence over her decision not to pursue an investigation of Trump University.
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint Wednesday with the IRS calling for an investigation into the Trump Foundation for violating the tax code by providing a private benefit to Trump and his business interests and falsely representing its political giving on its tax returns. The complaint also calls for an investigation into Trump for engaging in prohibited self-dealing.
Meanwhile, his rival, Clinton, has seen her own family’s Clinton Foundation attract controversy over accusations that some wealthy donors were able to get special access to meetings and events with State Department officials when she was Secretary of State. Clinton has denied those allegations, but the IRS agreed in July to open an investigation into the Clinton Foundation in response to a request from Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. The foundation was also forced last year to file five years’ worth of amended tax returns after questions arose over donations by foreign governments (see Clinton Foundation Expected to Amend Tax Returns).
Whichever candidate wins the presidency in November, one certainty is he or she will be forced to deal with the IRS before even getting into the Oval Office.