2012 GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has already run into some trouble on the topic of tax havens. The company that he ran — Bain Capital — not only abused tax havens while he was at the helm, but Romney also saw his lucrative Bain retirement package boosted by the company’s use of offshore tax sheltering. Romney also had a Swiss bank account until 2010, which his money manager only closed because such an account would look bad politically.
Adding another twist to the tale today, Bloomberg News reported that, while Romney was the head of its audit committee in the 90s, the hotel chain Marriott abused tax shelters, prompting multiple run-ins with the IRS:
During Romney’s tenure as a Marriott director, the company repeatedly utilized complex tax-avoidance maneuvers, prompting at least two tangles with the Internal Revenue Service, 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.”
Bloomberg noted that “during Romney’s years on the board, Marriott’s effective tax rate dipped as low as 6.8 percent, compared with the federal corporate statutory rate of 35 percent.” Marriott’s tax dodging even drew the ire of Congress, with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a Romney endorser, calling the company’s use of one tax shelter an “expensive hoax” and a “scam.”
Today, Romney released an updated version of his tax plan, which, in addition to including $10.7 trillion in personal income tax cuts, would also implement a “territorial” system for corporate taxation. Citizens for Tax Justice has noted that such a system would allow companies to permanently avoid paying taxes on their offshore funds, increasing the incentive to move funds to other nations.