Once upon a time, when then-NY Fed chief Tim Geithner was angling for a Senate confirmation which would make him Treasury Secretary, things got a bit tense when it was discovered that Geithner failed to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes on the income he earned while working for the IMF from 2001-2004. Basically, Geithner was classified as “self employed” and was thus responsible for making the payments himself but didn’t do so, which led to some $17,000 in unpaid taxes in 2003 and 2004. Geithner had previously paid more than $20,000 in back taxes to make up for missed payments in 2001 and 2002, so one might have thought he would check on 2003 and 2004 as well, but apparently some accountant somewhere screwed up — or so the story goes.
In any event, it now appears as though Hillary Clinton may be witnessing her “Geithner moment,” because as Reuters reports, several Clinton family charities will now refile a half decade worth of returns after failing to report “tens of millions” in contributions from foreign governments. Here’s more:
Hillary Clinton's family's charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors...
The charities' errors generally take the form of under-reporting or over-reporting, by millions of dollars, donations from foreign governments, or in other instances omitting to break out government donations entirely when reporting revenue, the charities confirmed to Reuters…
The unsettled numbers on the tax returns are not evidence of wrongdoing but tend to undermine the 990s role as a form of public accountability, experts in charity law and transparency advocates interview told Reuters…
For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years.
Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars toward the foundation's work on climate change and economic development through this three-year period. Those governments were identified on the foundation's annually updated donor list, along with broad indications of how much each had cumulatively given since they began donating.
And while the Clinton Foundation says it is exemplary among charities in terms of transparency, that contention will likely be put to the test as scrutiny will no doubt build as Hillary Clinton ramps up her bid for The White House. Perhaps that’s why the Foundation isn’t ruling out the possibility that it will refile up to 15 years worth of returns:
"We are prioritizing an external review to ensure the accuracy of the 990s from 2010, 2011 and 2012 and expect to refile when the review is completed," Craig Minassian, a foundation spokesman, said in an email.
The decision to review the returns was made last month following inquiries from Reuters, and the foundation has not ruled out extending the review to tax returns extending back 15 or so years…
And as for whether this is something that actually happens all of the time or should be rightfully viewed as an anomalous event:
"I've never seen amendment activity like that," said Bruce Hopkins, a Kansas City lawyer who has specialized in charity law for more than four decades.”
But then again:
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Clinton Foundation audited financial statements can be found here