Republicans ask IRS to audit Clinton charity's finances

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The U.S. Republican Party filed a formal complaint against one of Hillary Clinton's family charities with the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday and is calling for an audit after the charity said this week it would not refile erroneous tax returns.

The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation's flagship health program conceded earlier this year it had misreported by millions of the dollars the money it was given by governments compared with non-government donors in its tax returns for 2012 and 2013.

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The charities have come under intense scrutiny this year with Hillary Clinton remaining the favorite to become the Democratic Party's nominee in the November 2016 presidential election.

The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) originally said it was amending the forms, known as form 990s, after Reuters discovered the errors in the spring. This week, CHAI said it had decided against refiling, saying the errors had "no material impact," CHAI spokeswoman Maura Daley said.

The Republican National Committee disagrees, its chairman, Reince Priebus, said on Tuesday in his letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, a copy of which was given to Reuters.

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Republicans ask IRS to audit Clinton charity's finances
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, to testify before the House Benghazi Committee. After months of buildup, Hillary Rodham Clinton finally takes center stage as the star witness in the Republican-led investigation into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton waits to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, walks past members of the media as she arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, to testify before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, arrives to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Select Committee on Banghazi. After months of buildup, Hillary Rodham Clinton finally takes center stage as the star witness in the Republican-led investigation into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton arrives to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes her seat prior to testifying before the House Select Committee on Benghazi October 22, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing to continue its investigation on the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on the evening of September 11, 2012. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton waits to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton looks toward the dais as she settles into her seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, prior to testifying before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton arrives to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton takes her seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, prior to testifying before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during a House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Clinton said that she accepted responsibility for a lethal 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya and that she sought afterward to improve security for State Department workers abroad, as the House Benghazi panel investigating the incident began a hearing that may prove a turning point for her presidential campaign. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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"The American people deserve to know whether the largest philanthropic arm of the Clinton Foundation continues to misreport the funds it receives from foreign governments, and whether this might lead to the potential for further conflicts of interest," Priebus wrote.

Daley declined to comment beyond repeating that CHAI "does not believe a refiling is necessary." CHAI says the total amount of income was correctly reported for both years, but the breakdown of government against non-government funding had been muddled up.

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Spokesmen for Hillary Clinton did not respond to requests for comment.

Republicans have said the charities, which rely heavily on foreign government funding for their work on health, educational and environmental projects, present a hopeless conflict of interest for Clinton, who has dismissed this as a baseless political attack. She severed her formal ties with the charities after announcing her candidacy in April, but her husband and daughter continue to have leading roles.

The criticism intensified in April after the charities conceded that they did not fully comply with the ethics agreement Clinton signed with Barack Obama's incoming presidential administration in 2008 in order for her to become his secretary of state.

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A spokesman for the IRS said charities should refile a form 990 if it becomes aware of an error. Federal law bans the IRS from discussing specific cases, and it remains unclear whether it will agree that an audit of CHAI is necessary.

While it is not unusual for charities to refile a form 990 on occasion and that doing so is not evidence of wrongdoing, several tax experts told Reuters it was odd for a charity to make large mistakes several years in row. CHAI had previously refiled its 2010 and 2011 tax returns after over-reporting the amount it received from government grants by tens of millions of dollars.

The form 990s are used by the IRS to ensure a charity is not in breach of its tax-exempt status, and the forms must be made public so people can see how a charity raises and spends money.

The Clinton Foundation, which files tax returns separately from CHAI, also said earlier this year it expected to refile three erroneous tax returns after Reuters found it had wrongly reported receiving nothing from foreign governments in 2010, 2011 and 2012. A foundation spokesman told news website Politico, which first reported CHAI's decision not to refile, this week that it was still reviewing its accounts for those years.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

SAP is the sponsor of this coverage which is independently produced by the staff of Reuters News Agency.

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