A Texas branch of the IRS has quietly headed a potentially explosive investigation of the tax status of the Clinton Foundation – a “watchdog” role that reportedly could “make an example and show that no one is above the law.”
The IRS last July informed Congress a review had begun, and it would be conducted by the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division office in Dallas, according to the Dallas Observer.
IRS spokespeople in Dallas and Washington will not say why the review is being conducted in Dallas, or give any details about the review panel or its work.
“They are pretty much career people,” lawyer Ben Stoltz told the Dallas Observer, noting the branch focuses on nonprofit groups, a specialty that requires experience.
“It’s a different side of the IRS than people are used to seeing. . . . They’re generally very cooperative, but they’re also the watchdogs.”
“Because this is a high-profile case, they can make an example and show that no one is above the law,” he added.
According to the division’s “work plan,” the office is focused on big-money charities: “Our examinations will cover all gross wage categories but with an emphasis on entities with gross wages of $10 million or more; approximately 75 percent of examination closures will be of these returns,” the Dallas Observer reported.
In 2014, the Clinton Foundation paid salaries of more than $26 million, IRS filings show, the Dallas Observer reported.
But Stoltz said the complexity of the Clinton Foundation’s work means such an examination would take months.
And the trickiest part of the probe might be determining if the founding members trade influence for donations, especially while Hillary Clinton was secretary of State, the Dallas Observer reported – a charge Clinton and her staff have hotly denied.
“It boils down to the public trust,” Stoltz told the Dallas Observer. “This division is responsible for the integrity of the system. Americans donate more money to charity than anywhere else in the world. But for the public to donate, people have to believe that it’s legit.”
Meanwhile, the investigation by the local branch is becoming a “sideshow to the main Clinton Foundation events playing out in the offices of other federal agencies,” the Dallas Observer reported.
For example, it noted, other Clinton-connected foundation board members are under investigation, including one-time director and now Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
And demands to the Clinton Foundation have led to a debate within the FBI and Justice Department, with agents pressing for an investigation of allegations donors to the foundation got political access and special favors – and Justice responding there is not enough evidence to move forward.
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