Friday, September 7, 2012
Should donations to Michael Mann's Climate Science Legal Defense Fund be tax-deductible?
The US tax laws strictly limit the activities of non-profit organizations which receive tax-deductible donations organized under Section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue code. The tax code specifies that none of the earnings of a non-profit organization may inure to any private individual. According to the donation page of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, "Through PEER, a private non-profit organization organized under Section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue code, your contribution [to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund] will be tax deductible." According to the fund's blog page, the only activity so far has been to pay Michael Mann's legal fees. Mann's legal fees include private matters such as his libel lawsuit against climatologist Dr. Tim Ball as well as legal threats against The National Review and Mark Steyn. Mann also incurred legal fees in the FOIA case of Cuccinelli (Attorney General of Virginia) vs. the University of Virginia, but was not a defendant in that case and thus his legal fees were incurred at his own discretion for his private interests. I'm not an attorney or tax expert, but think it is unlikely that donations used to pay legal expenses related to an individual's private interests could lawfully be tax-deductible.
Posted by MS at 3:48 PM