For the young whippersnappers just getting started on Wall Street, and even for the veterans, legendary investor Julian Robertson has a lot of wisdom to impart. His sagely advice today, however, is not about how to navigate the markets, per se. It’s about pinching a penny and not letting the state of New York make you its bitch.
Julian, you see, has homes in both New York City and in Locust Valley, on Long Island (he has homes elsewhere, of course, as billionaires tend to do but today’s lesson focuses just on these two). When he was filling out his taxes a few years back, he noted that he was a resident of the state of New York but not the city, where he only does businesses. If he had been a resident of the city, he would’ve had to pay a few more million in taxes, so it’s nice for him that it worked out that way. The IRS, however, was skeptical. They didn’t believe JR spent the majority of his nights of the year sleeping on Long Island. They initiated an audit, probably thinking that as a man of considerable wealth and better things to do, Robertson would roll over and take it. Well they thought wrong!
…last fall, the hedge fund billionaire Julian H. Robertson Jr. presented evidence that he had had his assistant painstakingly collect to account for his whereabouts each day, and said that on some late nights he had frantically searched for a car to take him back to Locust Valley, on Long Island, so that he would be outside the city limits before midnight. He convinced the tribunal that he had spent less than half of 2000, the year in question, in the city, and thus did not owe back taxes of $27 million.
So, what have we learned here today? If you don’t want to get taken for a ride by The Man:
1) Make sure you have an assistant who will nearly kill herself helping you legally evade taxes.
2) Make it your BUSINESS to get out of the city before midnight; I don’t care if you have to hitch a ride with a guy in a Honda civic on his way to Canada, bribe a pedicab or steal a bus, you do what it takes.
Good luck out there.