Once again, we go through the annual chore of discussing the Discoveroids’ latest tax return. But we have to warn you that your Curmudgeon has neither the skill nor enthusiasm needed for reading these things. All we can do is give you what we see as the highlights. Therefore, don’t rely on our interpretation — you should reach your own opinions.
With that disclaimer, we bring you the thrilling news that the latest tax return of the Discovery Institute is now available — you can see it here: Discovery Institute Form 990 for 2016 (it’s a 54-page pdf file).
So you can make comparisons, we discussed their 2005 return in Discovery Institute: Who and What Are They?, and then Discovery Institute: Their 2006 Tax Return, and then Discovery Institute: Their 2007 Tax Return, and then Discovery Institute Tax Returns: 2008 & 2009, and then their 2010 tax return, and then their 2011 Tax Return, and then their 2012 Tax Return, and then their 2013 Tax Return, and then their 2014 Tax Return, and most recently their 2015 Tax Return.
The first item of interest on the 2016 tax return, on the first page, is the Discoveroids’ gross revenue — from “contributions and grants,” ignoring revenue from other items like investment income. Here’s what the latest return shows, with historical information from their older returns described in our earlier posts:
Interestingly, their revenue from “contributions and grants” was $312K less than the year before — which was their best year ever. Although lower then the previous year, 2016 was their second-best year — at least since we’ve been paying attention.
We have to ask what we ask every year. After burning through all that money – more than $55 million in the years we’ve displayed above — what do the Discoveroids have to show for it? As in the past, we leave that as an exercise for you, dear reader.
The next item that interests us is the breakdown of their spending according to activity. That’s disclosed in question 4 on page 2 of the return. For their three biggest programs, here’s what they spent: The first item was $4,034,611, which is almost 74% of their revenue. The next two items are $245,599 and $187,693. You have to hunt around to find out what those items are. For each item it says “see additional data,” and there’s no clue where that is. These forms are a bureaucrat’s delight! Anyway, we assume that $4 million item is their creationist activity, because that’s how it’s been in the past.
Page 7 lists their officers, directors, etc., and it discloses their compensation. Looking at the Directors first, they list Bruce Chapman, Chairman. He’s the only Director who was paid, and it was $79,560. Last year it was $82,306, and the year before it was $122,906.
Howard Ahmanson continues to be listed as one of their directors, without compensation. It’s long been known that he’s a patron of the Discovery Institute. There are a dozen other directors listed. They receive no compensation, so we assume they’re also patrons — but we really don’t know. They also list Steven Buri as President. He was paid $150K, and John West (whom we call “Westie”) is shown as Vice President. He got $126K. Page 8 lists some other employees. Stephen Meyer, who has no title, got an amazing $250K. The year before it was $200K.
There’s probably an ark-load of other information buried in that form, but we can’t look at it any more. If you find something of interest, please let us know.
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