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Posts Tagged ‘IRA’

In the world of chess being too aggressive at the outset, advancing too far, is perilous. For Romney, his refusal to acknowledge his aggressive financial engineering and tax avoidance strategies could indeed result in an open convention.  One in which the party is free to forward a higher quality candidate.

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With all the stories on Romney’s finances, many of which resulted from my observations regarding his tax returns and investment accounts, in particular his IRA, and the interaction of the trusts, foundation and Bain Company filings, the most important story is still untold.

Here it is, the story that could likely open the Republican convention to draft a new candidate.  I have been unsuccessful in getting a major reporter to tell the story, so I guess I’ll just have to tell it myself.

I’ll lay it out in simple steps with no conclusions or opinions.  It is simply astonishing that the media has not told this story.

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Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and senior editor Mark Maremont of the WSJ wrote the following two stories, explaining how Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney built his IRA to as much as $100 million. Both stories were based upon original Parish & Company analysis.  The purpose of this analysis is not to directly disparage Romney but rather note that his conduct with respect to this scheme is worthy of discussion.

1) Bain Gave Staff Way to Swell IRA’s by Investing in Deals, Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2012

2) Bain Capital’s Unusually Young Retirement Rollover Age of 23, Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2012

The reason these stories are significant is that during Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain, employees were able to use a special scheme, outlined in detail by Maremont of the Wall Street Journal, to put undervalued Bain related partnership investments into their SEP-IRA accounts, thereby going far above annual contribution limits afforded other taxpayers.   Some argue this is aggressive financial engineering while others argue it is outright tax fraud.  At a minimum it certainly has ignited a debate regarding fairness.

When Romney first ran for President in 2008 the law firm that handles his blind trusts, Ropes & Gray, also crafted a new pension plan for Bain Capital. Unlike the previous plan, the new plan allows the firm to hide the same scheme set up by Romney.   The problem is that this appears to be garden variety tax fraud in clear violation of important retirement plan rules.  A fraud enabled by one key provision, an official retirement rollover age of 23.

Bain’s use of an official retirement age of 23 essentially allows all existing employees, each year, to act as if they are doing a retirement related rollover from their profit sharing to IRA accounts outside the ERISA regulatory umbrella.  Of course, if I or most businesses had 23 as an official retirement age the IRS would laugh and shred the plan. (more…)

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Note:  Mitt Romney Tax Return Analyzed in Separate Post

As an investment advisor I have found reviewing a company’s pension plan to be a good indicator of the sponsoring company’s quality of management.  These pension plans are all available for viewing at http://www.free5500.com via required  annual 5500 ERISA filings.  The filings show not only show total assets yet also investment vehicles used and key administrative rules.

What follows is an analysis of Bain Capital’s 2010 Profit Sharing plan, a plan that likely explains how Mitt Romney so effectively built his IRA into a balance some speculate could be as high as $100 million.

What they appear to be doing is using a “common collective trust” account at Merrill Lynch that likely has Bain Capital partnership related investments contributed at artificially low prices and then rolled out into IRAs each year by participants.  This explains in part why the current plan is so small in terms of total assets, it is essentially being flushed each year.  In 2010 almost a third of the entire plan was rolled into IRAs and the plan document does indeed clearly state that participants are entitled to do one rollover each year.

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