This is something we do every year — look at the Discoveroids’ latest tax return. We always warn you that your Curmudgeon has neither the skill nor enthusiasm needed for reading these things, so all we can do is give you what we see as the highlights. 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 2017 (it’s a 58-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 then their 2015 Tax Return, and most recently their 2016 Tax Return.
The first item of interest on the 2017 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 $118,754 less than the year before — which was also less than it was in 2015, their best year ever. Are we seeing a trend, or just a trivial year-to-year variation? Only time will tell.
We ask this question every year. After burning through all that money – more than $60 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 $4,680,854 — presumably that’s their creationist activities It’s almost 88% of their revenue from “contributions and grants.” The next two items are $222,356 and $185,707. For each item it says “see additional data,” You have to hunt around to find out what those items are, and that’s too much work. The principle lesson here is that the Discoveroids have one major activity — and we all know what that is.
Page 7 lists their officers, directors, etc., and it discloses their compensation. As with their last return, Bruce Chapman, Chairman, is the only Director who was paid. It was $90,000, which is a bit more than he’s made in the past few years.
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. We know nothing about him. He was paid $164,200 (it was $150K last year). John West (whom we call “Westie”) is once again shown as Vice President. He got $136,130, compared to $126K last year. Page 8 lists some highly-paid employees. Among them is Stephen Meyer, who has no title. Well, he’s a “senior fellow,” but that’s not a corporate title. He was paid $250K, the same as the year before.
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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