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Old 11-04-2012, 10:54 PM  
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Romney paid nearly zero taxes from 1996-2009?

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-1...donations.html

Romney Avoids Taxes via Loophole Cutting Mormon Donations
By Jesse Drucker - Oct 28, 2012 11:01 PM CT

In 1997, Congress cracked down on a popular tax shelter that allowed rich people to take advantage of the exempt status of charities without actually giving away much money.

Individuals who had already set up these vehicles were allowed to keep them. That included Mitt Romney, then the chief executive officer of Bain Capital, who had just established such an arrangement in June 1996.

The charitable remainder unitrust, as it is known, is one of several strategies Romney has adopted over his career to reduce his tax bill. While Romney’s tax avoidance is legal and common among high-net-worth individuals, it has become an issue in the campaign. President Barack Obama attacked him in their second debate for paying “lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less.”

In this instance, Romney used the tax-exempt status of a charity -- the Mormon Church, according to a 2007 filing -- to defer taxes for more than 15 years. At the same time he is benefiting, the trust will probably leave the church with less than what current law requires, according to tax returns obtained by Bloomberg this month through a Freedom of Information Act request.
In general, charities don’t owe capital gains taxes when they sell assets for a profit. Trusts like Romney’s permit funders to benefit from that tax-free treatment, said Jonathan Blattmachr, a trusts and estates lawyer who set up hundreds of such vehicles in the 1990s.

Near Zero

“The main benefit from a charitable remainder trust is the renting from your favorite charity of its exemption from taxation,” Blattmachr said. Despite the name, giving a gift or getting a charitable deduction “is just a throwaway,” he said. “I used to structure them so the value dedicated to charity was as close to zero as possible without being zero.”

When individuals fund a charitable remainder unitrust, or “CRUT,” they defer capital gains taxes on any profit from the sale of the assets, and receive a small upfront charitable deduction and a stream of yearly cash payments. Like an individual retirement account, the trust allows money to grow tax deferred, while like an annuity it also pays Romney a steady income. After the funder’s death, the trust’s remaining assets go to a designated charity.

Romney’s CRUT, which is only a small part of the $250 million that Romney’s campaign cites as his net worth, has been paying him 8 percent of its assets each year. As the Romneys have received these payments, the money that will potentially be left for charity has declined from at least $750,000 in 2001 to $421,203 at the end of 2011.

Tax Returns

The Romney campaign declined to answer written questions about the trust.
“The trust has operated in accordance with the law,” Michele Davis, a campaign spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Paul Comstock, a financial adviser to LDS Philanthropies, an arm of the Mormon Church, said that while he wasn’t familiar with the trust, Romney and his trustee might arrange to compensate the church for the dwindling amount with other gifts.

“It may be that they’ve made provisions for the charity someplace else that will make up for what this isn’t going to give them,” Comstock said.

Bloomberg News obtained the trust’s tax returns from 2007 to 2011 from the Internal Revenue Service. Romney hasn’t disclosed the trust’s tax returns and is under no legal obligation to do so. He did make some disclosures about the trust’s investments in Massachusetts filings from 2002 to 2007 and as a presidential candidate in the current campaign.

After Death

Funds held by Romney’s trust are scheduled to be distributed after the death of Romney and his wife to “a charitable organization to be designated by Romney,” according to the 2007 filing, disclosing assets he held while governor of Massachusetts. “In the absence of such a designation the funds will go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.”

Davis declined to comment on whether Romney has designated another charity since then.

Romney has been an active member of the church, which expects members to donate 10 percent of their income. Over the years, he has donated millions of dollars of stock in Bain-owned companies to the church, securities filings show.
The church recommends such trusts on its website as one of many options for donors.

“Probably one of the advantages of a charitable remainder trust is that it helps with capital gains tax,” said Carl McLelland, an attorney in the planned giving office for LDS Philanthropies.

Capital Gains

CRUTs were more common in the 1990s when capital gains rates were higher. In 1996, when Romney set up his trust in Massachusetts, the federal rate was 28 percent, compared with 15 percent today. At the time, a Massachusetts state resident who sold shares for a gain of $1 million could have faced a combined state and federal capital gains tax of as much as 40 percent, reducing his take to $600,000.

By contrast, if he contributed the stock to a CRUT, and it sold the shares, it typically wouldn’t owe any tax since it is a charitable trust. The CRUT could reinvest the $1 million and earn a return on the full amount.

“The power of this is the tax deferral,” said Jay A. Friedman, a partner at accounting firm Perelson Weiner LLP in New York. “The money is all growing tax free and he only pays tax on what is distributed to him.”

Concerned that CRUTS weren’t sufficiently philanthropic, Congress mandated in July 1997 that the present value of what was projected to be left for charity must equal at least 10 percent of the initial contribution. Existing CRUTS weren’t affected by the new law.

Dwindling Principal

Romney’s trust was projected to leave to charity an amount with a present value of a little less than 8 percent of the initial contribution, according to an analysis by Friedman. Thus, the specifics of Romney’s trust wouldn’t have passed legal muster if it had been set up 13 months later, he said.

Because the trust’s investments have been earning a return far below its annual payouts to the Romneys, its principal has dwindled rapidly.

In 2001, five years after it was established, the trust had a value of between $750,000 and $1.25 million. Since then, it has pursued a conservative investment strategy -- regardless of the ups and downs of the stock market -- buying a mix of money- market funds, federally-backed bonds and federal bond funds. Since 2007, it has moved its assets entirely into cash. By 2011, its investments earned a return of $48, down from between $60,001 and $100,000 in 2001. It paid $36,696 to the Romneys in 2011.

Romneys Favored

The current investing strategy favors the Romneys over the charity because they get a guaranteed payout, said Michael Arlein, a trusts and estates lawyer at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP.

“The Romneys get theirs off the top and the charity gets what’s left,” he said. “So by definition, if it’s not performing as well, the charity gets harmed more.”
The trustee for Romney’s CRUT is R. Bradford Malt, chairman of the law firm Ropes & Gray LLP, and manager for Romney’s various family trusts as well as his personal attorney. Ropes & Gray has also been for years the main outside counsel for Bain Capital.

If the CRUT maintains the same investing strategy, assets will continue to shrink, said Jerome M. Hesch, a tax and estate planning attorney at the law firm Carlton Fields. The trustee acted prudently in protecting against losses during a stock market decline, he said.

Nevertheless, “what’s going to go to charity is probably close to nothing,” Hesch said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Drucker in New York at jdrucker4@bloomberg.net
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:37 AM   #76
HonestChieffan HonestChieffan is offline
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He avoided 80 million euros in taxes? Good Christ, what was the gross amount that had dividends that would generate 80 million euros in taxes? .......I think a little bullshit call is in order here....
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:39 AM   #77
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Watching the wealthy take advantage of monetary loopholes that aren't available to the average person is just ****ing annoying. Like people buying hummers on the truck credit a few years back, or using cash for clunkers to fund their new jaguar. It's legal, I'm not above it - but I'm not running for public office. It's just another reason why Mitt is so damn annoying and a lot of people will never identify with him or ever think he gives a **** about anyone below the financial top 2% in the country.
You want to know what's annoying?

It's ****ing annoying when the ****ing President orders Navy SEALs to stand down when they could have saved the lives of the four Americans who died in Libya. It's ****ing annoying when the President lies to the people and blames the terrorist attack on a YouTube video because he doesn't want people to know that Al Qaeda is still a threat.

And it's ****ing annoying that the mainstream media allows him to get away with bullshit like that.

If you're annoyed that Mitt Romney didn't pay enough taxes to satisfy you, you're concentrating on the wrong things.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:48 AM   #78
htismaqe htismaqe is offline
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Man I just hate rich people...

Anybody got those lottery numbers yet?
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:16 AM   #79
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All, hail more tax avoiders!

Steve Jobs even in death! Death and taxes....Tee Hee!
Then Amazon, Starbucks, Facebook and Google.

Apple Paid Just 2% Tax On Overseas Profits


http://news.sky.com/story/1006814/ap...erseas-profits

Apple paid less than 2% tax on its overseas profits, documents have revealed, after the technology giant slashed the amount foreign taxmen receive.

The iPad and iPhone creator paid $713bn (£445m) in corporation tax outside the US in the year to September 29 - despite foreign pre-tax earnings soaring more than 50% to$36.8bn (£23bn).

Papers filed with US regulators revealed Apple's overseas tax rate fell to 1.9%, compared to 2.5% the previous year amid a headline corporation tax rate in the UK of 24% and 35% in the US.

The slide in its overseas tax rate comes as the company sold 125 million iPhones, 58 million iPads and 13.5 million MacBook laptops worldwide.
Apple is the latest company to come under scrutiny for overseas tax payments after Amazon, Starbucks, Facebook and Google.

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Old 11-05-2012, 12:04 PM   #80
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That rich bastard Romney. He gives 30%+ of his earnings to charity. What an asshole. I mean he donates millions and millions of dollars to charity, but it lowers his effective tax rate! I can't believe he is so uncaring!
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:10 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by htismaqe View Post
Man I just hate rich people...

Anybody got those lottery numbers yet?
It's not about hating rich people. It's about the people and how little we matter to our government. Only the super rich are allowed to evade taxes and you want a scumbag like that to control our country? What do you think his agenda is going to be? It's going to be 100% focused on getting the rich, richer.

If I tried to evade my little tiny bit of taxes, I would be put in jail.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:10 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by BWillie007 View Post
That rich bastard Romney. He gives 30%+ of his earnings to charity. What an asshole. I mean he donates millions and millions of dollars to charity, but it lowers his effective tax rate! I can't believe he is so uncaring!
That is not the issue. The issue is he's paying less on taxes because what he gives to charity is not actually what they get. Therefore, he's claim tax exempt status on money that shouldn't be tax exempt.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:11 PM   #83
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That is not the issue. The issue is he's paying less on taxes because what he gives to charity is not actually what they get. Therefore, he's claim tax exempt status on money that shouldn't be tax exempt.

You dont quite understand how they work do you.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:15 PM   #84
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You dont quite understand how they work do you.

Highly possible, but that is what I got from the story. Please feel free to correct me where I'm wrong.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:17 PM   #85
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It's not up to Romney to do the IRS's work for them. If they have an error in their code, then it's their problem, not his.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:20 PM   #86
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Originally Posted by BWillie007 View Post
That rich bastard Romney. He gives 30%+ of his earnings to charity. What an asshole. I mean he donates millions and millions of dollars to charity, but it lowers his effective tax rate! I can't believe he is so uncaring!
Well, to the Mormon church. That's the price if you want your own planet.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:21 PM   #87
htismaqe htismaqe is offline
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Originally Posted by Bump View Post
It's not about hating rich people. It's about the people and how little we matter to our government. Only the super rich are allowed to evade taxes and you want a scumbag like that to control our country? What do you think his agenda is going to be? It's going to be 100% focused on getting the rich, richer.

If I tried to evade my little tiny bit of taxes, I would be put in jail.
I hear it here every day in UAW country. They HATE rich people and Romney is rich, so they hate him.

They don't even CARE about his agenda - he's rich, hate him.

And then they buy their lottery ticket, presumably so that they can become rich.

And if Romney is a "scumbag" what does that make Obama? You want to talk about somebody who only cares about himself...
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:22 PM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bump View Post
It's not about hating rich people. It's about the people and how little we matter to our government. Only the super rich are allowed to evade taxes and you want a scumbag like that to control our country? What do you think his agenda is going to be? It's going to be 100% focused on getting the rich, richer.

If I tried to evade my little tiny bit of taxes, I would be put in jail.
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Originally Posted by J Diddy View Post
That is not the issue. The issue is he's paying less on taxes because what he gives to charity is not actually what they get. Therefore, he's claim tax exempt status on money that shouldn't be tax exempt.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:27 PM   #89
blaise blaise is offline
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He shouldn't be able to give that money to charity to avoid paying taxes that Democrats can use to dole out to their voters.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:30 PM   #90
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He shouldn't be able to give that money to charity to avoid paying taxes that Democrats can use to dole out to their voters.
Except it is not given to charity. It's put into a charitable remaining trust which allows it to grow tax free and he only pays taxes on what he pulls out of it.
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