Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, discussing his book "From the Ground Up" on Monday, the day after announcing his interest in running for president.

 

(Image: Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images.)

TYT Investigates

Howard Schultz Gave Less Than 1% of Fortune to Charity

Multibillionaire Howard Schultz, the Starbucks icon now preparing to run for president, contributed less than 1% of his net worth to his charity in fiscal year 2017, TYT has found.

Schultz, who reportedly is worth $3.4 billion, has framed his campaign as a response to Democratic proposals such as those from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and potential presidential rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to reverse growing income inequality.

Tax records filed by the Schultz Family Foundation for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, show that Schultz and his wife contributed $18,065,864 in that period — representing 0.53% of his estimated net worth.

All told, Schultz has given an estimated two-and-a-half percent of his wealth to the family nonprofit, based on tax filings dating back to 1999. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos drew criticism earlier this month when the New York Post reported that he has given 0.09% of his historic riches to the Bezos family charity. Bill Gates, by comparison, has given away more than a third of his money.

Schultz’s contributions for 2016-2017 consisted of 19 donations ranging in size from $61,616 on the low end to a single gift, more than half his total giving, of $13,297,500, which came in the form of Starbucks stock.

The Schultz Family Foundation's 2016-2017 tax filings show that most of Schultz's donations came in the form of Starbucks stock.

(Image: Screengrab of excerpt from IRS tax records via ProPublica.org.)

During the fiscal year ending September 2017, Schultz also gave $19,701 to the Starbucks Foundation, according to that non-profit’s most recent tax filings. The Starbucks Coffee Company gave almost $52 million.

Tax filings by the Starbucks Foundation show the 2016-2017 charitable giving by the company and by Howard Schultz.

(Image: Screengrab of excerpt from IRS tax records via ProPublica.org.)

The Schultz Family Foundation’s filing says that the family also directs charitable donations through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, but does not disclose an amount. The $2-billion Silicon Valley charity is a donor-advised fund, which is not required to disclose who its donors are or where they direct their funds.

Schultz may have given to other charities, as well, but his representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schultz, who served as CEO and executive chairman of Starbucks until 2018, this weekend catapulted into the political world when he revealed on Twitter his interest in running for president as an independent.

“I love our country, and I am seriously considering running for president as a centrist independent,” Schultz tweeted. He has since begun hiring political operatives.

The thrust of his campaign so far has been to denigrate Democratic proposals to reduce income inequality. On Tuesday he dismissed Warren’s proposed wealth tax as “ridiculous.” He has called Ocasio-Cortez’s pitch to raise top marginal tax rates to 70 percent “misinformed” and said he doesn’t think America would approve. A recent Fox News poll showed 70 percent of registered supporters favor the plan.

Schultz, who has described himself as a “lifelong Democrat,” was met with skepticism by many who thought his candidacy would hand the election to President Trump.

On Monday, Ralph Nader, who ran as an independent during the Bush-Gore battle in 2000, told Fox Business that a Schultz candidacy would be “a nightmare for the Democrats.”

Schultz told Forbes in 2016 that America had “lost our conscience” and he wanted Starbucks to “elevate citizenship and humanity.”

The magazine reported that the $100 million Schultz Family Foundation, founded in 1996, held “only a thin slice” of his wealth at the time, but that Schultz said it would become much bigger.

The Schultz Family Foundation’s publicly available tax filings do not name its recipients. The group’s website lists a number of veterans’ and youth groups that benefit from its largesse. One document on the Starbucks website lists amounts given to youth groups in 2016. The donations are mostly five-figure amounts to local organizations. The group that received the most was a San Francisco United Way chapter, which got $100,000.

If Schultz does run, he would likely come under intense pressure to release his tax returns — something every major presidential candidate prior to Trump has done for decades. Those returns could shed light on the full extent of Schultz’s giving.

Most of Schultz’s disclosed giving to his family foundation has come in the form of stocks. In the most recent year available, Schultz and his wife’s gifts to their foundation included several high-profile tech stocks:

  • 2,691 shares of Apple worth $298,486
  • 220 shares of Amazon worth $171,036
  • 4,082 shares of Microsoft worth $247,675

He also donated some well-known Wall Street stocks:

  • 6,079 shares of Bank of America worth $124,194
  • 2,159 shares of JP Morgan Chase worth $129,622

All but one of Schultz’s 19 donations in 2016-2017 were reported as being made on Nov. 23, 2016, just over two weeks after the presidential election.

Jonathan Larsen is TYT's managing editor. You can find him on Twitter @JTLarsen.

Ken Klippenstein is a senior investigative reporter for TYT. He can be reached on Twitter @kenklippenstein or via email: [email protected].

If you have tips on this subject or others you can contact us using Proton Mail at [email protected]. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to stay on top of exclusive news stories from The Young Turks.

00:00 / 00:00