Newly released filings show Trump company transfers to his charity in 2017
Posted November 26, 2018 10:05 p.m. EST
(CNN) — President Donald Trump's company donated more than half a million dollars to the Donald J. Trump Foundation last year, according to a 2017 tax return made available Monday.
The purpose of $502,400 contribution from the Trump Corp. to the foundation was not disclosed in the filings.
The New York state attorney general has accused the foundation in a civil lawsuit of "repeated and willful self-dealing transactions" that violate state and federal charity laws. A judge ruled Friday that the suit, which seeks $2.8 million in restitution and additional penalties, can proceed even with Trump in the White House.
Marcus Owens, a former director of the nonprofits division at the IRS, said it was impossible to know the purpose of the Trump Corp. donation from the filing, which does not disclose the date of the receipt.
"This contribution could be part of the foundation trying to get right with the IRS or state of New York," said Owens.
Trump said in 2016 after he won the presidential election that he would dissolve the charity to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. He remains listed as a director alongside his two eldest sons, Don Jr. and Eric, though his daughter Ivanka, now a White House adviser, resigned her role in January 2017.
Daniel Borochoff, the president of CharityWatch, which tracks nonprofit groups, said the contribution could have helped cover fees or wind-down costs for the foundation, which received no other contributions last year. The foundation listed $1.7 million in remaining assets in the filing.
"At the end of the day, we don't have any indication of how this money will be used," Borochoff said.
The foundation also listed about $271,000 in unspecified "reimbursements" in the filing. Separately, the tax return states that the Trump National Golf Club reimbursed the foundation for a contribution the foundation made in 2012. The foundation donated to a charity that year using funds raised by an auction for a membership at the golf club.
The 2017 tax filing, posted online by the nonprofit monitoring website GuideStar, states that the foundation intends to dissolve and is seeking approval to distribute its remaining funds to "highly qualified" charities.
The Trump Organization, which encompasses Trump's various business entities, did not respond to a request for comment.
In a previous statement, a representative for the Trump Foundation described the New York attorney general's lawsuit as "politics at its very worst" and said the attorney general has been "holding hostage" the foundation's remaining assets. The attorney general's lawsuit argues that a court should supervise the foundation's dissolution.
The foundation gave more than $3 million to various organizations in 2016 and raised more than $2 million from donors such as Ivanka Trump and casino magnate Phil Ruffin.
While on the campaign trail, Trump skipped a debate and held a rally to raise money for veterans in January 2016. According to the lawsuit, Trump signed a filing that listed the rally as a fundraiser for the foundation. The New York state attorney general argues that the rally was actually a Trump campaign event. The IRS prohibits charities from participating in political campaigns.
The lawsuit adds that the foundation was used to pay $258,000 to settle lawsuits related to Trump properties. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who filed the suit, said Trump wrote a foundation check for $25,000 that was donated to the political committee for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013, though the Trump Organization described the donation as an inadvertent mistake.
Underwood described the Trump Foundation in June as "little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his business to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality."
The Trump Foundation case is being considered by the New York Supreme Court.