This Pennlive editorial attacking the Commonwealth Foundation’s taxpayer subsidies is amazing. It’s a classic case of the Wingnut Welfare that is allowed to happen in this country. The Commonwealth Foundation is trying to destroy public sector unions in Pennsylvania by protecting the taxpayers’ money, but the Commonwealth Foundation – as a 501(c)(3) – is allowed to receive millions in tax deductable donations from people who are only paying 15% in taxes. Call it Matt Brouillette being a fucking hypocrite or a beneficiary of Wingnut Welfare.
The foundation is a 501c3 organization under federal tax law. That means the donations it collects ($1.9 million in 2011) are tax-deductible. If all that money came from high-rolling hedge fund managers and stock market investors who have to pay only 15 percent federal tax, all the rest of us had to pay an extra $285,000 in federal taxes to make up for the largess Commonwealth Foundation collected that year.
Federal law allows a group like Commonwealth Foundation to spend a portion of its money flat-out lobbying to get elected officials to pass legislation – like “paycheck protection.” Since 2009, the foundation has reported $87,865 of lobbying expenses. (The group’s financial data comes from its 990 forms, filed with the IRS.)
Nor are our liberty-loving, free-market friends at the foundation barking about the government payroll deduction arrangement that benefits charities.
At the state level, an employee can make “charitable” payroll deductions to groups with overtly political agendas like PennFuture, an environmental group, and Focus on the Family, a right-wing traditional values group, as well as dozens of Christian and Jewish charities.
Your tax dollars and mine support a state payroll system that channels money to those causes, whether or not you agree with them or support that religion.
Now, Commonwealth Foundation president Matthew Brouillette told me that those groups and his are very different from unions. As 501c3 groups, they are not allowed to get involved in election campaigns. Unions are.