The San Diego Union-Tribune look at questions about the tax-exempt status of Comic-Con International, which generates about $5 million in revenue each year:
The convention’s status is legal and hardly unique. More than 130 yearly cultural events in California – Fleet Week in San Diego, this weekend’s U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition in Imperial Beach, the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena – come under the same tax-free umbrella.
Some charity watchdogs raise their eyebrows at the appropriateness of it for Comic-Con.
“It is a real stretch to call a group whose purpose is to promote comics via a highly commercialized event a charity,” said Sandra Miniutti, a vice president for Charity Navigator. “How does that benefit the greater good of society?”
Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, also wondered about the public benefit. “The people who appear to be profiting are the pop-culture purveyors who have a great marketing opportunity there,” he said.
But Comic-Con’s David Glanzer asserts the convention qualifies as educational: “We strive to inform the public that comics are as viable an art form as other art you may find in a museum, or in a gallery, or a bookstore or even a film festival.”
Comic-Con, which last year drew 124,000 people, is San Diego’s largest annual convention by attendance, and generates an estimated $32 million in income for the city’s businesses.