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Friday, August 24, 2007

Ted Haggard: Tax Cheat?

posted by on August 24 at 12:15 PM

Slog readers noticed something odd in Haggard’s letter to his supporters—besides, of course, Ted’s assumption that he still has supporters. Ted is too fucking lazy to get a real job and wants the same of idiots that bankrolled his church to bankroll his education. Because Ted’s going to be a counselor when he grows up. Anyway, check this out…

If any supporters need a tax deduction for their gift, they can mail it to Families With a Mission at P.O. Box 63125, Colorado Springs, CO 80962. The supporters would need to write their check to “Families With A Mission” and put a separate note on it that it is for the Haggard family, then Families With a Mission will mail us 90% of the funds for support and use 10% for administrative costs.

Says Julie in the comments thread…

This strikes me as borderline illegal from a tax perspective. Can you really make a tax-deductible donation to a nonprofit organization, only to have 90% of it be given directly to a specified individual? If the mission of “Families with a Mission” is to provide monetary assistance to Christians in need, maybe. Otherwise, it seems pretty fishy since directly giving money to Ted Haggard would not be tax deductible.

Slog regular Dave C., a lawyer, is now looking into it. Dave says that the rules at states forbid 501-C(3)s from handing money over to disgraced former pastors: “…none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual.”

Dave is also looking into the specific organization that Haggard is using to launder contributions. Dave says that so far the only “Families with a Mission” group registered with the Colorado Secretary of State was dissolved in Feb of 2007. Here’s the relevant screen-grab. “It has the same address for mailing purposes that Haggard lists on his letter,” writes Dave.

Dave is still digging—and here’s hoping Ted’s gotten himself into a little more hot water.

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Posted by JessB | August 24, 2007 12:25 PM

wasting your time - premature glee

charities can give money how they wish, esp. church related charity - since GOD tells them what to do, not the IRS

funding education and living expenses during studies is bona fide for any non profit or non status charity (scholarship ring any bells?)


Posted by hilda | August 24, 2007 12:29 PM

@2, sure but that doesn't explain away that Families with a Mission potentially doesn't even exist ...

Posted by seattle98104 | August 24, 2007 12:35 PM

No, Hilda, you're wrong.

I have this from the mouth of the finance director of a large charity: you CANNOT earmark donations for a particular client. This request is made all the time, but it's not allowed. No charity operator can possibly be confused on this point; the restriction is not subtle.

It's also super-illegal to solicit donations with a promise of a tax deduction if your 501(c)3 status isn't up to snuff. It's not illegal to just ask for donations, with no deduction.

The question is, will the IRS go after a crook who's a prominent Christian who (used to) talk to the President once a week?

Posted by Fnarf | August 24, 2007 12:36 PM

hilda @ #2
.. but ceasar has his rules which everybody must obey. unless they want to become a bitch in ceasar's pokey

Posted by reverend dr dj riz | August 24, 2007 12:37 PM

Look for them losing there non-profit tax status soon. This is a no-no.

Posted by Dougsf | August 24, 2007 12:40 PM

Maybe Ted WANTS to become someone's bitch in ceasar's pokey.

Posted by monkey | August 24, 2007 12:41 PM

Dougsf -- read it again. They don't HAVE tax exempt status to begin with. They're going to lose more than that. That's a prison offense in the real world.

Posted by Fnarf | August 24, 2007 12:41 PM

I think the earnings inuring to shareholders/individuals quote is probably a red herring. That just means that at the end of the year, if the nonprofit hasn't spent all its money for that year, no individual or shareholder can get it (i.e., nobody "owns" the organization). That clause doesn't say anything about how a nonprofit can spend its money throughout the year (obviously, a nonprofit could give money to a specific individual if it chose).

As Hilda mentioned, I think that if the stated mission/purpose of Families with a Mission is to provide scholarships or financial support to Christians or some such thing, then they are in the clear (as long as they provide support to more people than just Ted Haggard).

The problem is, who is this Families with a Mission group and do they have a non-profit Tax ID number (necessary for donations to be deductible)? I couldn't find anything on them on (which is a non-profit database) - and Google came up empty too. But, I'm not a lawyer (just have experience with nonprofit finances) so that's probably all I can contribute to the discussion...

Posted by Julie | August 24, 2007 12:43 PM

Good point Fnarf about the earkmarking donations... you can't, for example, send in a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and say, please give this to such and such person. Same here.

So, there's a bunch wrong with that letter, in addition to the obvious thing about idiots giving money to Haggard (by the way, did anybody read the PS??).

Posted by Julie | August 24, 2007 12:48 PM

You think he will pay taxes on the money idiots send directly to him? I'd be willing to bet not.

Posted by jamesb | August 24, 2007 12:52 PM

@7 Agreed. He's looking to get sent to prison where he can have all the meth and man ass he can handle.

Posted by Gitai | August 24, 2007 12:57 PM

On the other hand, maybe it's good to send those donations down this particular drain. Every dollar sent to Ted Haggard is a dollar not sent to the RNC or the Family Research Council or... hell, if Tedd Haggard is at the top of your charitable giving list, what would your second choice be?

Posted by elenchos | August 24, 2007 1:09 PM

Okay, I should have looked at that screen shot before I posted, eh? So, it was a real non-profit with a real Tax ID number, it is no longer. Meaning Ted’s sins include:

- Indicating that donations to an organization would be tax deductible when they are not (this is definitely bad)

- Telling people they can earmark donations that will go to him (though, not sure how much of a sin this is, unless people actually send money, the nonprofit gives it to Ted, and Ted accepts – even then, not sure who technically would be at fault, the nonprofit or Ted)

-Being a lying, sleazy, hypocritical son of a bitch

Posted by Julie | August 24, 2007 1:11 PM

I don't get why he needs money...he was the most prominent evangelical preacher in the US, talked to Bush every week...he must have been extremely well compensated, no? What happened to all his savings and assets?

Posted by guess | August 24, 2007 1:32 PM

@15 - Whatever it is, it's probably the same thing that happened to Tony Snow's Fox money (poor guy is staying in his $160k civil service job as long as he can afford to). Meth? Man ass? Who could say?

Posted by Levislade | August 24, 2007 2:01 PM

Some of you people are over educated.

Churches are really free to do a lot of things that are not kosher in other settings. And I can guess they have a pile of good Christina Legal Foundation blah blah to back them up.

Out there, there is utter confusion about which charity can offer legal deductions and which do not - in any cast the majority of people just do standard IRS short form - so who gives a real shit? Even when I was rolling in money and making some fair contributions - I never bothered.

By the way, Dobson is the real threat from the Christina right - not the all played out Haggard - time to move.on

Posted by hilda | August 24, 2007 2:36 PM

Christian tax cheats are yet one more example of the hypocracy of toxic Christianity. America is a sick country. In Israel justice prevails and no Jew would ever cheat on his taxes for fear of The Beth Din.

Christians are all child molestors and tax evaders. Judaism is the only just religion.

Posted by Issur | August 24, 2007 2:53 PM

Hilda, if you are an example, there are a lot of under-educated people "out there" as well.

I'm sure you are satisfied with your short-form filing, but a lot of people itemize, and the IRS really does care what you claim. More importantly, the IRS cares A WHOLE LOT about charities that solicit donations on the promise of a tax deduction.

Legit charities, in addition to being registered properly, have themselves audited every year to ensure compliance. And real Christian fundraisers subscribe to one of the established ethics boards for certification -- something Haggard has never done to my knowledge.

Posted by Fnarf | August 24, 2007 3:20 PM

I hope Ted has enough time to actually get donations before Dave C. JD goes after him. I don't know why but I really want to see this guy go to jail.

Posted by Jude Fawley | August 24, 2007 3:26 PM

Did anyone turn them in for 10 percent of the money stolen from us other taxpayers - the standard reward?

Would serve them right.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 24, 2007 3:27 PM

The United Way does a lot of pass through earmarking of funds so it can be done legally. In their case, it is generally for other non-profits so perhaps that's the proper way to do it.

Posted by PA Native | August 24, 2007 3:34 PM

How's this for overeducated? Yes, churches and church-related charities can give money however they want. But not all churches file for nonprofit status as a 501(c)(3) organization (as whatever this Families with a Mission group had done). Once you do, you gain the benefit of tax deductible donations, but you have to follow the government's rules for this type of nonprofit (which, as an aside, include restrictions on the political activity of the organization - i.e., a 501(c)(3) church could not endorse or support a political candidate).

Posted by Julie | August 24, 2007 4:00 PM

I'm a non-profit and I promise that half of all donations will go towards administration costs (like a macbook) and transportation (cab rides) while the other 30% will cover bar tabs. The remaining 20% will be given as a tip, but will not, in turn, be tax-dedcutible.

Posted by aerosol | August 24, 2007 4:06 PM

Hilda is right - in that even if they say they are a real charity, who knows?

Churches have all sorts of slack, that old Constitutional thing, and an elastic reading of same.

Three, I have never known any one who lists donations. Oh, yes, Bill Gates.

And Julie starts down the trail - since many churches do not support the state, only Celestial Kingdoms, they don't bother to register, don't comply, operate in privacy, and claim broad constitutional perks ...(and win in court).

Fnarf, you sound a lot like a pious devout Baptist thinker I have as a friend. Is you name Billy? Billy knows a lot too, but little about people and the actual state of things around him.

Actually, Hagga, and fiends could use this sites' postings to RAISE a lot of money- in the open and fair and square.
The attacks they would say, are mean, and not based on God's word, and very venal. Proving the need for cash to fight the good fight. "Christian are persecuted" - they say it all the time

Just sayin' ...

Posted by fnarf know all - HOLY SHIT - a church | August 24, 2007 6:28 PM

Wow! Kook sign, in the wild.

No, I'm not Billy, or a Baptist.

And I reject the notion that openly cheating the IRS is possible, or even a good idea. As for "who knows", well, you can fucking LOOK IT UP.

Posted by Fnarf | August 24, 2007 6:43 PM

Just send a check for $1.00 per Ted's instructions, if they cash it, BINGO it's evidence of their wrong doing.

Posted by Roger | August 24, 2007 8:34 PM

Go get his ass!!

I'm in Colo Springs and am going to go find this "front".

Posted by Brent | August 25, 2007 4:08 PM

This was almost totally passed over in the local Colorado Springs newspaper - I read it every day, and they buried it very well - it was only after I did a search that I found it online. It clearly eluded others, too, as there are only a few comments compared to other stories. And once found, there is no mention of Huberty at all, except by a commenter. As of today, the 27th, there is still no mention of Huberty outside that one comment.

Posted by rabbit | August 27, 2007 1:37 PM

That's damn good journalism Dan. KUTGW!

Posted by Drew | August 27, 2007 8:24 PM


Posted by Givess | September 7, 2007 1:22 AM


Posted by Givess | September 7, 2007 1:22 AM

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