Tax Loophole Benefiting Romney’s Estate Costs U.S. $1 Billion Over Ten Years

According to Bloomberg News, Mitt Romney is taking advantage of a tax loophole to pass off a fortune to his children without paying taxes on it. According to administration figures, this loophole costs the government $1 billion over a ten-year budget window:

In January 1999, a trust set up by Mitt Romney for his children and grandchildren reaped a 1,000 percent return on the sale of shares in Internet advertising firm DoubleClick Inc.

If Romney had given the cash directly, he could have owed a gift tax at a rate as high as 55 percent. He avoided gift and estate taxes by using a type of generation-skipping trust known to tax planners by the nickname: “I Dig It.” […]

While Romney’s tax avoidance is both legal and common among high-net-worth individuals, it has become increasingly awkward for his candidacy since the disclosure of his remarks at a May fundraiser. He said that the nearly one-half of Americans who pay no income taxes are “dependent upon government” and “believe that they are victims.” […]

The Obama administration estimates that closing the loophole Romney used would bring the federal government almost $1 billion in the coming decade.

One analyst said that $1 billion is a “laughable” under-estimate of the loophole’s effect, as “a single billionaire could pay $500 million more in estate taxes if these trusts are shut down.”

It’s unclear whether Romney would close this particular loophole, since he refuses to divulge details about his tax plan. However, he has been upfront about his desire to eliminate the estate tax, which only affects the richest Americans. That tax cut would save the heirs of the Koch and Adelson fortunes billions of dollars. As ThinkProgress detailed, the lion’s share of tax breaks doled out in the U.S. go to the very rich.