Now that the George Zimmerman Legal Defense Fund is open, we have received many questions regarding how the money raised will be used, details about how the money will be managed, and of course how much money has been raised.
We intend to be transparent about each of these issues, but there is no requirement to open the details of the fund to public scrutiny. Our first obligation when it comes to disclosure is to the private individuals who felt compelled to contribute to the fund.
How Much Money Has Been Raised?
Regarding how much has been raised, during the first day of the fund going live there has been warm support. Donations have ranged from $1.00 to $500.00 with the average donation being about $20.00. The donations have come from all over the country. However, a long legal fight lies ahead, during which time Mr. Zimmerman cannot work as he has threats against his life. The donations made will be used for reasonable living expenses and his legal defense.
How Is the Money Managed?
The fund itself is managed by a third-party administrator -- a former IRS agent who practiced many years as a CPA and has extensive experience as Chapter 7 bankruptcy fund trustee. Neither George Zimmerman or Mr. Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara have direct access to the fund.
What Happened to the Money Already Raised?
The week of April 23, we disclosed that the PayPal account Mr. Zimmerman had opened before his arrest collected approximately $204,000. That account has been closed, and approximately $150,000 of that money is being transferred to the new independently administered trust account. Approximately 3.5% of the money raised was consumed by PayPal fees. Of the balance $5,000 went to bond, a little more than $1,000 was put into telephone and commissary accounts at the jail. Much of the rest was used to address the considerable expense of closing existing financial obligations, attending to his security and secured transportation and setting up new, secure living quarters where he can safely await trial. Roughly a third of the balance remains liquid and in Mr. Zimmerman’s possession for living expenses for the next few months. So far, none of the funds have been applied to legal expenses.
Will Mr. Zimmerman Have to Pay Taxes on the Money Donated?
Yes. Donated funds are considered income and are taxable. UPDATE: The fund administrator confirmed that donations are gifts, and there is not a tax liability for the defense fund.
Are Donations to the George Zimmerman Defense Fund Tax Deductible?
No, they are not.