ICANN’s tax return: top salaries and a big savings account

Latest tax return reveals big salaries and a growing treasure chest.

Picture of a tax statement with the words

ICANN has filed its 2021 Form 990 (pdf), which is the non-profit equivalent of a U.S. tax return. The return covers the 12-month period ending June 30, 2021. Here are some noteworthy points:

  • Nine employees had total compensation of at least $500k, and 16 of $400k or more
  • 141 independent contractors received at least $100,000. This includes companies and people; law firm Jones Day led the pack with nearly $9 million.
  • ICANN’s total lobbying cost was only $346k for the tax year
  • It now has a whopping $576M in assets and only $21 million in liabilities. $442M of the assets are in publicly traded securities

ICANN’s large savings account makes me wonder if it should stop accepting contributions. Sure, part of the assets are new TLD auction proceeds earmarked for spending on something in the future, and the organization has had some budget shortfalls over the years. But ICANN raids the auction piggy bank when it needs cash, so we’re effectively looking at a non-profit with over a half billion of assets. Entities pitched in $3.6 million in contributions last year. This amount is small compared to the total revenue, but it opens up questions of favoritism when companies in the space chip in with contributions. And do we really need meeting sponsors at this point?

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