Clinton Foundation Re-files Form 990s

November 17, 2015       Mark Hrywna      

The Clinton Foundation yesterday announced that it filed amended tax returns for the years 2010 through 2013 and also filed its most recent Form 990 for the Fiscal Year ending 2014.

The foundation has come under increased scrutiny since former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her run for Democratic presidential nomination this past spring. It was announced in April that tax forms for 2010 through 2012 would be re-filed because of possible errors in reporting contributions from foreign governments, in addition to amended returns for the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) for 2012 and 2013.

In a three-page letter to friends of the Clinton Foundation, President Donna Shalala emphasized that the errors did not require amended returns; there is no change to the assets, liabilities or net assets of the foundation; and, the foundation does not owe any tax. “Despite that, we decided to refile. Our decision was based in large part on the role the Form 990 serves as a public disclosure document for our friends, supporters, partners, and the general public,” she wrote.

The foundation reported total revenue of $177 million for 2014 but consolidated financial statements, which would combined the assorted Clinton initiatives, reported almost $338 million in revenue.

The amendments generally were found in four categories:

  • Government grants and contributions;
  • Revenue from speeches;
  • Changes to Schedule B; and,
  • Listing of related entities.

For 2010, 2011, and 2012, government grants were included in “All other contributions” but were not separately broken out, with the line for government grants left blank.

Revenue from speeches by Hillary Clinton, as well as former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton, was listed under the statement of revenue as part of other charitable contributions for 2010, 2011 and 2012. The 2013 return classified the fees as “miscellaneous revenue,” which has been amended to break out on a separate line for “speech revenue.” The speeches were a fee-for-service rather than a donation. Hillary Clinton resigned from the foundation’s board in April before announcing her run for president. Her husband and daughter remain on the board.

Errors in the amount of donations and some omissions were found after a review of Schedule B, Schedule of Contributors. Some changes led to the listing of additional donors or because speech fees were moved from contributions to other income, decreasing the 2-percent threshold for reporting on Schedule B. Donors now added to Schedule B previously had been disclosed on the foundation’s website.

To serve transparency and disclosure, relationships with related entities should have been included on the initial Forms 990s. When a foundation has activities in certain countries, it is required to work through an entity established in that country. In some cases, the foundation created social enterprises to help fill the gaps in supply and distribution changes and reinvest profits in enterprises.

The amended returns “reflect a commitment to disclosure and thoroughness,” Shalala said. Kathy Keneally, chair of the civil and criminal tax litigation in DLA Piper’s global tax group and the former assistant attorney general for the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, reviewed the returns. She, in turn, engaged a CPA firm, CohnReznick, which previously had not worked with the foundation.

Keneally advised the foundation that it had no legal obligation to file amended returns but if it did, those amended returns should correct any and all errors.

“We found nothing to suggest that the foundation intended to conceal the receipt of government grants, which the foundation reports on its website. Because foundations, like people, make mistakes, and because return preparers may differ on how best to present information, the review identified other items that the foundation has decided to clarify or to correct,” Keneally said.

BKD prepared the original and amended returns for 2010-13 and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) prepared the original and amended returns for 2013 and 2014. PwC also performed the audit of consolidated financial statements for 2014, which includes accounts and activities of the CHAI. The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was an initiative of the foundation from 2005 to 2009. As part of an agreement between the foundation and Obama Administration, CGI operated as a separate, affiliated nonprofit from 2010 to 2013. It resumed operating as an initiative of the foundation in 2013.

Formerly the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, CHAI has been incorporated as a separate but affiliate nonprofit since 2010. The foundation is required to consolidate CHAI finances into the audited financial reporting.