Gawker’s John Cook got hold of 950 pages of confidential Bain Capital documents related to Mitt Romney and put them online, writing that, “The documents are exceedingly complicated. We don’t pretend to be qualified to decode them in full, which is why we are posting them here for readers to help evaluate—please leave your thoughts in the discussion below.”
The he NYT took an early stab at reporting what’s in the documents:
Bain private equity funds in which the Romney family’s trusts are invested appear to have used an aggressive tax approach, which some tax lawyers believe is not legal, to save Bain partners more than $200 million in income taxes and more than $20 million in Medicare taxes…
A typical private equity or hedge fund pays its managers in part with a management fee based on the size of the fund, and in part with a share of the profits earned by the fund. Those profits are considered “carried interest” and taxed at capital gains rates, which in recent years have been 15 percent, assuming that the underlying investment profits qualified for that treatment.
The tax strategy Bain appears to have used is intended to convert the remaining management fee — the part not based on investment profits — into capital gains. Mr. Romney appears to benefit from the carried interest structure in these funds, but it is not clear from the documents made public whether he also benefits from the fee waiver. The Romney campaign declined to comment.
Bloomberg puts it this way:
The newly released records show that Romney put money in a web of funds run by his former firm that used investing and tax strategies beyond the reach of ordinary savers. One tactic employed by Bain and other firms to achieve the lower tax rate for some compensation is known as management-fee conversions or fee waivers.
Bain Capital Fund VII LP disclosed in a 2009 report that the general partner in the fund had in the past waived management fees and converted those fees into an interest in the fund called a “priority profit share.” That had the effect of turning fees that would be taxed at ordinary income rates, as high as 35 percent, into capital gains, taxed at a rate of 15 percent.
— Billboard reports that a five-year-old study that found, ludicrously, that file sharing increased record sales, has been debunked:
An influential 2007 academic paper that found a positive link between file sharing and CD purchases has been debunked after a professor from Australia has taken the same data set and come to an opposite conclusion.
As blogger and lawyer Barry Sookman explains, Professor George Barker of the College Of Law, Australian National University took the same data, corrected for “two fundamental errors” and found a “negative association between P2P downloading and CD demand.” In terms of damages done, Barker estimates a 10% increase in P2P demand reduced CD demand around 0.4%.