taxes

  • 07 Dec 2011 at 4:21 PM

With A Name Like Feline Pride It Has To Be Good

Sometimes it’s useful to be reminded that not all financial structuring is designed to get around capital requirements or defraud customers. Some is designed to get around taxes and defraud the treasury! One group of people who like to think about that kind of thing is the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, who took some time out from shouting about payroll taxes yesterday to have a geeky hearing about the state of financial instrument taxation. Short version is, they’re not all that happy about it.

The JCT staff generally say pretty smart stuff about tax policy, and they get that shit is fucked up and bullshit. Or as they put it more diplomatically:

The timing, character, and source rules apply differently to (and are sometimes uncertain for) equity, debt, options, forward contracts, and notional principal contracts. These five basic instruments can be combined in various ways to replicate the economic returns of any underlying asset. … The flexibility of financial instruments also creates great difficulties in the taxation of financial instruments. This report provides examples of taxpayers’ uses of financial instruments to achieve desired timing, character, and source outcomes and describes how the tax laws have or have not addressed this tax planning.

There are two useful takeaways here. One is kind of weird: there are a bunch of fairly basic things (exchange-traded notes, CDS) where nobody – not the IRS, not the JCT, nobody – knows how they’re supposed to be taxed. That … seems like a bad thing. And, I’m going to guess, not so much the fault of evil financial innovators.

The second takeaway, which is related but more satisfying to fulminate about, is that evil financial innovators can mix and match stuff until they get any tax result they want: Read more »

As you may have heard, over the weekend, Denmark introduced a tax on fat. The measure is aimed at “increasing the average life expectancy of Danes” but obviously it’ll make the country a little extra coin, too. Great for them, not so great for hedge fund manager Julian Robertson, who had to sit at home steaming over the fact that his idea had been stolen. For those who supposedly don’t remember what we’re talking about, perhaps this quote will jog your memory?

“I would love to be the Obesity Czar.” Read more »

  • 03 Oct 2011 at 11:54 AM
  • taxes

George Soros Can’t Wait For The Buffett Rules

“As one of the people who will be directly affected by the proposed new rules, let me say that I wholeheartedly endorse them,” says George Soros of carried interest and Obama’s proposed Buffett rule, which would force those making more than $1 million to pay at least as much federal income and payroll taxes as those who make less. [AR]

Warren Buffett says he’s absolutely “fine” with President Obama calling the new plan to establish a minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year the “Buffett Rule.” Reached Sunday in Omaha, Nebraska, the outspoken billionaire said the administration “asked me if they could use my name (on it) and I said, ‘Sure. It’s what I believe.’” [FBN]

Did you know it takes 1,000 people to staff 6 Applebee’s? Read more »

While they’re there they ought to “get a reality transplant.” Greenberg, like WB, wants to pay more. Read more »

Tax breaks for the wealthy, corporate jet owners, hedge fund managers and oil and gas companies should be scrapped to help reduce the deficit, President Barack Obama said Wednesday. Republicans are insisting that tax increases stay off the table in ongoing talks to get a deal to raise the debt ceiling. But at a news conference Obama said revenue has to be in the mix. [MarketWatch]