TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Romney, Marriott, and the Son of BOSS Tax Shelter

Bloomberg, Romney as Audit Chair Saw Marriott Son of BOSS Shelter Defy IRS, by Jesse Drucker:

During Romney’s tenure as a Marriott director, the company repeatedly utilized complex tax-avoidance maneuvers, prompting at least two tangles with the IRS, records show. In 1994, while he headed the audit committee, Marriott used a tax shelter known to attorneys by its nickname: “Son of BOSS.”

A federal appeals court invalidated the maneuver in a 2009 ruling, siding with the U.S. Department of Justice, which called Marriott’s transaction and attempted tax benefits “fictitious,” “artificial,” “spectral,” an “illusion” and a “scheme.” Marriott had argued the plan predated government efforts to close such shelters.

Employing another strategy, Marriott legally avoided hundreds of millions of dollars in income taxes thanks to a federal tax-credit program criticized and allowed to expire by Congress. Marriott has also shifted profits to a Luxembourg shell company. During Romney’s years on the board, Marriott’s effective tax rate dipped as low as 6.8%, compared with the federal corporate statutory rate of 35%.

ataxingmatter, Romney's Association with Corporate Tax Shelter Schemes, by Linda Beale (Wayne State):

First, as the article points out, Romney claims that his business experience is the primary reason that Americans should want to see him in the White House. Contrary to his claim, it seems to me that the more we hear about his business experience the less I think he is suited to the White House....

Second, major corporations aren't paying enough--much less too much --in taxes these days.

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relevance of chair of audit committee and SoB shelter? Unless it was large enough to move the needle on the tax provision, so what? Besides....there wasn't this little thing called FIN48 back-in-the-day.

And in 1994 (which was about 6yrs before 2000-44), it wasn't a shelter yet.

Posted by: Tax Professional Extraordinaire | Feb 23, 2012 3:28:27 PM

With the reference to KPMG getting nailed for promoting Son of BOSS tax shelters, Drucker's article is off base. Marriott's entry into a Son of BOSS transaction predated by 4-5 years the mass marketing of such tax shelters by major accounting firms. The connection Drucker suggests is just not there.

Posted by: Jake | Feb 23, 2012 5:52:57 PM