Friday, July 21, 2006

charity begins at home if you're a rich real estate baron with your own bogus charitable foundation.

Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt and his family of Utah real estate barons, water lords, and insurance tycoons have a "charitable foundation" that has saved Mike Leavitt alone at least $1.2 million-plus in taxes, while paying out around $50,000 a year to charities. This "charity" also has made interest-free loans totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars to commercial businesses owned by the Leavitt family.

The best thing the family can say about this was in a statement from an HHS spokesperson: "The foundation's activities are totally legal and proper."

These activities very likely ARE legal. Because this is precisely the sort of crap that rich people, amply represented in Congress that caters to their every whim, get passed into law to allow THEM to shelter THEIR income and wealth from paying their fair share of taxes to support the society in which they have been fortunate enough to become (or remain) wealthy.

However, to call them PROPER is another thing entirely. It isn't too much, I'd say, to expect that assets given to a charitable foundation be used to actually SUPPORT CHARITABLE WORKS, not just function as a tax shelter and a source of interest-free loans.

A Leavitt family member said they would change the activities of their foundation if Congress changed the legislation. In other words, if Congress made it illegal to use a charitable foundation to save on taxes and as a source of interest-free commercial loans while paying out a pittance in charitable work, the Leavitts will obey the law. What a bold and generous commitment. Otherwise, they'll continue their comfortable and profitable "Type III supporting operation," categorized by the IRS as one of the biggest tax scams it faces.

Charity begins at home, if you have enough money to take advantage of the sleazy little shelters that the rich men in Congress create through legislation for their wealthy supporters.

Meanwhile, the de facto Bush Administration can be expected to push for still MORE tax cuts for the wealthy, for people like Mike Leavitt and his family of charity-scamming self-serving Utah real estate barons and insurance tycoons.

Oh, and in case there was any doubt, the charitable donations overwhelmingly have gone to Leavitt-family-linked organizations, and Mike Leavitt's alma mater, Southern Utah University.