Jesse Eisinger writes in the NYT that if you heard that Mark Zuckerberg donated $45 billion to charity, you are wrong</a>. Here's what really happened: Zuckerberg did not set up a charitable foundation, which has nonprofit status. Instead Zuckerberg created an investment vehicle called a limited liability company (LLC)</a> that can invest in for-profit companies, make political donations, and lobby for changes in the law. What's more an LLC can donate appreciated shares to charity, which will generate a deduction at fair market value of the stock without triggering any tax. "He remains completely free to do as he wishes with his money," writes Eisinger. "That's what America is all about. But as a society, we don't generally call these types of activities 'charity.'"
A charitable foundation is subject to rules and oversight. It has to allocate a certain percentage of its assets every year. The new Zuckerberg LLC won't be subject to those rules and won't have any transparency requirements. According to Eisinger what this means is that Zuckerberg has amassed one of the greatest fortunes in the world — and is likely never to pay any taxes on it. "Instead of lavishing praise on Mr. Zuckerberg for having issued a news release with a promise</a>, this should be an occasion to mull what kind of society we want to live in," concludes Eisinger. "The point is that we are turning into a society of oligarchs. And I am not as excited as some to welcome the new Silicon Valley overlords."