TaxProf Blog

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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Shaviro on Romney, Marriott, Son-of-BOSS Tax Shelters, and Mea Culpas

Dan Shaviro (NYU):

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If every adverse rumor about Romney's taxes were true, would the dishonesty exceed the accounting trickery used to justify Obama's health insurance bill? Not in kind and certainly not in degree.

A new challenger might be able to claim that you can't trust the other guy because he's not honest. Can this really work for a Washington insider who has a record of manipulating the numbers in ways that are extremely illegal in the private sector?

Posted by: AMTbuff | Aug 10, 2012 4:04:15 PM

Shaviro finally admitted to what I ascertained -- he said something stupid on the internet. But, he didn't really take back anything that he said and meant. He just didn't like it bringing attention to himself. Ahhh, poor Dan. And this! -- I was just bending over backwards to be fair.... Me, too, Dan, me too.

What's funny, though, is that in the retraction he said even more stupid things...including his support for a totally inept and dishonest President who has raised ruin with our nation's debt and created such an unstable tax and economic environment that businesses won't hire, resulting in a 15% U-6 unemployment rate. Where's your compassion for the unemployed, Dan?

Posted by: Woody - A rugged individualist | Aug 10, 2012 6:20:26 PM

Shaviro is an incredibly bright guy. So why does he imperil his reputation and integrity with this facile and partisan attack on Romney, resting on naught but 20/20 hindsight?

A little more to the point, in the 1990s the tax shelter grew without significant interference from the political party that ran the Executive Branch at the time. Amazingly, despite frantic allegations that the political party that ran the Executive Branch throughout most of the 2000s was the handmaiden of wealthy tax evaders, the government in that decade more or less wiped out the abusive tax shelters spawned and marketed in the 1990s.

Oddly, with the change of party in the White House in 2009, tax enforcement has grown lax again.

Posted by: Jake | Aug 10, 2012 6:40:14 PM

My comment on Prof. SHaviro's first article:

"Given what we still don't know, it's all the more important to see 10 previous years of tax returns. After all, 1997 through 2001 or so was the high water mark of people like him investing in abusive tax shelters that sent a lot of the promoters to jail."

"People like him"? Are you saying that we should presumptively believe that rich people cheat on their taxes?

Also,I'm afraid your math has slipped. Ten years of tax returns is 2002-2011, missing your Era of Tax Shelters. As in Home Concrete, you need to inflate your statute of limitations.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Aug 10, 2012 7:33:09 PM

Did the son-of-BOSS scheme have to get by the external auditing accounting firm? I know that with regard to tax assets such as NOLs, the accountants check as to their validity, e.g. on the question of whether the firm will make profits and pay income tax in time to use the NOLs. How about Marriott's tax scheme? Should it have gotten into the footnotes of the annual report?

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Aug 10, 2012 7:41:30 PM

Mr. Rasmusen: Prof. Shaviro can count. He said "the 10 previous years of tax returns," i.e. previous to the year 2010, which Romney released. That would be 2000-2009, including two years of the 1997-2001 tax shelter era. When you commented, you ignored the word "previous."

Posted by: Mitchell S. Fishman | Aug 13, 2012 9:54:08 AM