The Trump Foundation is under fire and facing an IRS audit because of apparently illegal behavior.
The alleged illegal behavior consists of improper insertion of the Foundation into Trump’s presidential campaign. Political activity on the part of the Trump Foundation is illegal because the Foundation is a a tax exempt organization. IRS rules prohibit organizations registered as such from involving themselves in political activity.
As The Daily Beast writes:
‘Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington [also known as CREW] filed a complaint with the IRS alleging the mogul’s foundation violated its tax-exempt status by participating in his presidential campaign.’
CREW is reportedly tied to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The potential outcome of the investigation is that the Trump Foundation loses its tax exempt status.
That’s not just a technicality, however. Should the Trump Foundation lose its tax exempt status, its head would become responsible for paying up untold amounts of back taxes. The head of the Trump Foundation is, of course, Donald Trump.
Trump has still not publicly released his tax returns, and he has pledged to not do so any time in the near future. Thus, the impact of a multi- million dollar payout from Trump funds could be bigger than anyone could imagine.
With Trump already facing a near chasm between his and Hillary Clinton’s respective fundraising machines, a sudden disappearance of millions of dollars from Trump’s funds could prove fatal for his campaign, one which is effectively on life support already.
Although the Trump Foundation’s illegal political behavior has allegedly gone on for years, the point sparking the investigation came just recently.
Much earlier in the election cycle, the businessman turned presidential candidate pledged 6 million dollars to veterans’ charities. Trump made his pledge on the occasion of his boycotting of a Fox News Debate between the remaining Republican presidential primary candidates.
The problem is that Trump still hasn’t fulfilled his promise. The monies he has handed out have gone through the Trump Foundation.
And that’s where the kicker comes in. The ceremonial checks handed over to the head of the veterans charities had plastered across the top Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”
CREW alleges that such a header to the checks constitutes clear violations of federal regulations binding upon the Trump Foundation.
CREW’s official complaint says:
‘Those checks unquestionably communicated the Trump for President’s campaign slogan, and in the context of a campaign rally designed to advocate for Mr. Trump’s nomination and at which Mr. Trump spoke, the use of the slogan can have no reasonable meaning other than to urge his election.’
Thus, according to CREW, Trump, through his Foundation, broke the law and must be held accountable.
Trump is no stranger to either legal trouble or shady charitable dealings. USA Today discovered over 4,000 lawsuits to which Trump is somehow connected.
In addition, one report called Trump the “least charitable billionaire in the world,” having donated only a few million dollars in total to his Foundation. The rest of the funds distributed by the Foundation come from other sources.
Thus, Trump is in serious trouble. The impact, however, remains to be seen.
Featured Image via Alex Wong/ Getty Images.