However philanthropic the intentions of Mark Zuckerberg, he isn’t bound to give a penny of his $45 billion to charity despite his announcement...
Although this step has been widely interpreted as Zuckerberg and Chan pledging their fortune to charity, they didn’t announce the establishment of a nonprofit group or a charitable foundation. Instead, they will set up a limited liability company. That’s right, an ordinary company.
The vehicle can donate to charity, but it doesn’t have to give away some every year, as a foundation would. It can also make investments and participate in “policy debates.” That means it could turn a profit and make donations to political candidates and pay lobbyists.
“This is not a charitable foundation,” said Victor Fleischer, a tax law professor at the University of San Diego. What they’ve done “is essentially nothing more than a promise to give some money to charity in the future. But the structure somewhat resembles a family office, used both for investment and charitable purposes. The level of activities in the charitable versus investment and political pieces isn’t specified.”
This does not make lefties happy, despite Zuckerberg happy talk about equality. Bloomberg again:
“I applaud their emphasis on ‘promoting equality,’ but that starts with paying one’s taxes,” said Gabriel Zucman, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “A society where rich people decide for themselves how much taxes they pay and to what public goods they are willing to contribute is not a civilized society.”-RW