The average spectator of American politics can save themselves quite a bit of heartache by embracing cynicism. Credulity is an ailment shared by those on both the left and the right, but it often seems that grassroots liberals more often suffer under the delusion that their compatriots are unimpeachable ideologues incapable of hypocrisy. That condition was perhaps slightly ameliorated when it was discovered that the liberal cable news network MSNBC is jam-packed with duplicitous personalities.
For MSNBC’s liberal hosts, the tax burden assumed by the wealthy is criminally trivial. These hosts have also been known to decry the complex network of loopholes within the absurdly intricate American tax code that allows the wealthy to shirk many of their tax obligations. The properly cynical were not surprised to learn that many of this network’s hosts were guilty of regularly failing to meet the standards they set for others. In fact, no fewer than four prominent MSNBC hosts have been accused by the IRS of owing a substantial amount in back taxes. But Al Sharpton’s $4.5 million debt to the government and his refusal to pay even payroll taxes on his charity’s employees hasn’t prevented him from demanding others pay their “fair share.”
MSNBC hosts are in good company. Maybe the most prolific donor on the left, a figure with a financial stake in so many political organizations with a leftist mission, George Soros, also appealed to tax dodging to amass his fortune.
“George Soros likes to say the rich should pay more taxes,” Bloomberg’s Miles Weiss observed. “A substantial part of his wealth, though, comes from delaying them.”
“While building a record as one of the world’s greatest investors, the 84-year-old billionaire used a loophole that allowed him to defer taxes on fees paid by clients and reinvest them in his fund, where they continued to grow tax-free,” the report continued. “At the end of 2013, Soros—through Soros Fund Management—had amassed $13.3 billion through the use of deferrals, according to Irish regulatory filings by Soros.”
From October 2008 through the end of 2013, Quantum Ireland paid Irish taxes of $962 on $3,851 of net income after allocating $7.2 billion of operating income to investors as distributions on profit participation notes, according to its financial statements. Most, if not all, of the notes were held by Soros’s tax-exempt Open Society foundations. Last year, Soros shut down Quantum Ireland and moved the deferred fees to a new entity incorporated in the Cayman Islands.
Soros may have found another way to defer paying taxes on fees. After Congress placed restrictions on U.S. investors in offshore funds in 1986, Soros created a security that enabled partners in his firm to defer taxes and convert ordinary income into lower-taxed capital gains, according to the person familiar with the firm’s finances. In 2010, Soros revived that maneuver by having Quantum Endowment issue $3 billion of convertible preferred partnership interests to “related parties” of Soros Fund Management, according to the Irish financial filings.
Soros was held up by the left as a model of propriety during the 2012 election cycle when he advocated for raising taxes like people on himself. “Yes, I very much do so,” Soros said when asked by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria if he supported the president’s desire to hike the tax burden for the rich, “because it’s the big boom, the super-bubble that resulted in a great increase in inequality.”
“Not only do we have the after effect where we have slow growth one way or the other, but if you have better distribution of income, the average American will be better off,” Soros added.
But just like the hosts at MSNBC, Soros isn’t really referring to himself. He knows that his intentions are just and good. He’s referring to the villains constructed in his head; the greedy, uncharitable, faceless Republican billionaire that serves as a cartoonish foil in the minds of so many on the left. Who cares if I take advantage of tax loopholes or even fail to pay taxes entirely, Soros and his MSNBC cohorts tell themselves. My intentions are noble, and that’s what really counts.