In December 2016, a largely unnoticed report from The Citizen’s Audit revealed that David Brock’s Media Matter’s allegedly hid $1 million from the IRS spanning 2010 to 2014.
Brock’s Media Matters owns a lease to the entire 6th floor of a building in Washington D.C. – also reported by The Citizen’s Audit – and subleases office space to thirteen other organizations. However, the city of Washington D.C. only recognizes one registered occupant on the 6th floor – Media Matters for America.
Media Matters sharing floor space with 13 other organizations isn’t wrong. However, the fact that Media Matters failed to report their sublet rental income to the IRS definitely is.
The Citizen’s Audit report delves deeper…
According to their reporting, Media Matters claims two different figures to the IRS and in their financial statements. To the IRS, Media Matters reports $924,454 in total occupancy expenses and $0 of sublet rental income. In their financials, Media Matters reports $1,214,454 in total occupancy expenses, $290,000 of sublet rental income.
Tax instructions state “Do not net any rental income received from leasing or subletting rented space against the amount reported on line 16 for occupancy expenses.”
Media Matters’ 2014 financial statements, however, show that the reported occupancy expenses includes the net sublease income of $290,000.
Plain as day, it seems Media Matters broke tax guidelines. With this, a huge discrepancy is uncovered:
- Media Matters claimed to the IRS in 2014 that their total occupancy expenses in 2014 were $924,454.
- Media Matters claimed in their 2014 financial statements that their total occupancy expenses were $1,214,454.
Which one of these is true – what Media Matters reported to the IRS or what they reported in their financials? The better question is, where did the $290,000 in sublet rent income go? It wasn’t reported to the IRS in 2014. The IRS provides two options for reporting sublet rental income. Either report the rental income as a program-service revenue or report the rental income as gross rents…
On their 2014 tax form, Media Matters did neither:
Furthermore, General Services Administration, a government organization, signed a 10 year lease in 2009 for the entire 5th floor of the same building Media Matters is in.
For the 5th floor, the lease is $942,021 per year; that includes operating expenses and real estate taxes. The lease also makes no reference of an escalation clause.
In 2009, Media Matters signed a 10 year lease for the entire 6th floor of the building and claim to spend much more in rent than the General Services Administration. Interestingly enough, Media Matters specifies that this amount does not include operating expenses and real estate taxes:
It seems Media Matters is truthful in reporting that its occupancy claims were $924,454. However, reporting they collected $0 in sublet rental income was a lie. Media Matters is indeed receiving payments for rent – in 2014, they took payment from American Bridge 21st Century for “office rent”.
Allegedly, with this report, David Brock and his associates are likely pocketing the sublet rent income for personal use and hiding it from the IRS.
Furthermore, compare Media Matters’ reported sublet rental income on their IRS form 990s and their financial statements found in Massachusetts non-profit document search database (search under “AG Account Number: 047309”). On their taxes, they report $0. On their financials, $1,052,500 is reported in sublet rental income spanning 2010 to 2014.