Skip to comments.The widow Heinz's tax-exempt fortune buoyed by our bucks(Lovey!)
Posted on 05/14/2004 6:02:16 AM PDT by Redcoat LI
The widow Heinz's tax-exempt fortune buoyed by our bucks By Howie Carr Recent Columns by Howie Carr Friday, May 14, 2004
``We don't pay taxes,'' Leona Helmsley famously said in 1989. ``Only the little people pay taxes.''
Leona Helmsley, meet Teresa Heinz Kerry, second wife of the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Sen. John Forbes Kerry of Massachusetts.
Kerry's campaign issued a ``summary'' of Teresa's 2003 income taxes this week - a couple of hours after the release of the video of the beheading of Nicholas Berg in Iraq. The Kerry campaign is often criticized for its stumbles, but in this case, their tactic succeeded brilliantly. Coverage of Teresa's taxes has been minimal.
The widow of the late Sen. John Heinz, Teresa is worth $550 million, owns at least five mansions and controls a corporation that owns a Gulfstream V private jet worth $35 million. The widow Heinz, who is five years older than her second husband, does pay taxes, but only up to a point. Last year, according to the ``summary,'' she paid income taxes of about $750,000 on an income of $5.1 million.
That works out to less than 15 percent of her income, because over half of her income - $2.8 million - came from tax-exempt interest on government bonds.
In other words, in addition to the $45,000 a week on which she did pay taxes, Mrs. John Kerry [related, bio] last year collected another $56,000 a week upon which she paid zero taxes.
``I think there's a lot of unfairness today in America in the way taxpayers are treated,'' her husband explained on the Fox News Channel last January, without naming names. ``The average worker really ends up with the raw end of the deal as big corporations and powerful people walk off with the money. That has to change.''
Even the pro-Kerry Boston Globe described Teresa's untaxable bond holdings as ``vast,'' but just how vast is a matter of conjecture - at the very least $50 million, according to one accountant. The best source of information about Teresa's wealth comes from her husband's Senate financial disclosure reports, which, to be fair, are listed on his campaign Web site.
But the asset and income categories set up by Congress are notoriously vague. Consider her holdings in Scranton Lackawanna Health and Welfare Authority bonds. On the Senate forms, she says the bonds are worth between $100,001 and $250,000, and they throw off income of between $5,001 and $15,000. The bonds pay 5.1 percent interest.
Teresa, a share-the-wealth kind of gal in her public pronouncements, also owns more than a million dollars in bonds issued by the Allegheny County Port Authority. Last year they threw off between $50,001 and $100,000 in tax-free dividends, which Democrats often call ``unearned income.''
Most investors stick with bonds issued in their home states, which shelters them against state income taxes. But when you're worth $550 million, you have to diversify.
Teresa has bond holdings from at least 14 states, plus Puerto Rico. She's invested in O'Hare Airport bonds in Chicago, for example, in addition to bonds issued by four New York City or state authorities.
Of course there's nothing wrong with owning tax-free bonds. But the fact remains, they are guaranteed by ``revenue streams,'' i.e., taxes paid for by people who, say, travel through O'Hare, or pay sewerage bills in Lackawanna.
And their hard-earned dollars go to finance the lavish lifestyles of gold diggers and gigolos who made their money the old-fashioned way - they married it.
You might even argue that tax-exempt bonds are ``reverse Robin Hood, taking from the middle class and giving to the wealthiest Americans.''
John Kerry said that, in January, on National Public Radio. He wasn't referring to his wife's investment strategies, of course.
So what should be done about all these plutocrats, driving around in their families' SUVs, piloting million-dollar powerboats, buying $7,000 bicycles and diverting streams in Idaho to water the lawns in front of their skiing-resort mansions?
``We need to ask the wealthiest people in our country,'' Sen. Kerry said last September, ``to bear some of the burden.''
Somewhere, Leona Helmsley is blushing.
"And their hard-earned dollars go to finance the lavish lifestyles of gold diggers and gigolos who made their money the old-fashioned way - they married it."
What I don't get is that if her fortune is $550 million, why is her income only $5 million?
I know interest rates are low, but surely she could do better than this.
"second wife of the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Sen. John Forbes Kerry "
Shouldn't that be PRESUMPTIOUS?.........
Fat Bastard Ping.
Taxable and tax-exempt income is not true economic income. A lot of her assets are probably things like real estate, paintings, stock and the like. There would be no taxable or tax-exempt income on those until sold.
As Usual,I'm Clueless.
Perhaps A More Financially-Savvy Freeper Could Explain This.
See post 6.
Fat Bastard Ping.
The cost of municipal borrowing would almost double if those borrowings were taxable. That would mean an increase in taxes to maintain the same level of municipal (state, county, municipal, and their related entities).
Just for informational purposes, I used to 'trade' munis as part of my investment management duties for 5 different banks. I'm also sure their are many republicans, conservatives, and independents that own tax-exempt muni bonds (RANS, TANS, BANS,& GO). No big deal - move on.
This is her reported income for tax purposes. Her real income is probably much higher. Some of it is unrealized capital gains (assets went up in value, but she didn't sell them, so no tax is due).
The wealthy play by a different set of rules...
But Given Horsefaces Statements:
"reverse Robin Hood, taking from the middle class and giving to the wealthiest Americans.''
"We need to ask the wealthiest people in our country,'' Sen. Kerry said last September, ``to bear some of the burden.''
There Is Nothing Wrong With The Way She Invests Her Money,Either Legally Or Morally,But If J.F'n K. Wants To Stumble Around The Country Calling Himself "The Man Of The People",it Looks Slightly Hypocritical.
But her Heinz stock yields 2.9%.
I suspect that she enjoys very substantial write-offs from real estate investments.
The article notes that income taxes totalled $750K, but fails to note that this includes state income tax.
Her average Federal income tax rate was just over 10% ...
that's the average rate paid by wage earner with taxable income less $7000 per year. For married individuals filing separate returns, wage earners making taxable income between $7000-$28,000 per year pay a marginal federal income tax rate of 15% -- a rate almost 50% higher than the widow Heinz' average rate!
The article's slam on tax-exempt status of municipal bonds is largely bogus, though. Municipalities pay interest rates much lower than the market rate because of the tax-exempt characteristic of municipal bonds.
But it's thesis is absolutely correct: Kerry and his ilk are slimy, hypocritical demogogues.
"I am Elmer F. Dudd .... my wife owns five mansions and a yacht."
In addition to what others have said, I gather about half her income is from tax-free municipal bonds, which usually have a lower rate of return than taxable investments because they're tax-free.
Her average federal rate was 11%, only if you don't take into account that interest on tax-exempt bonds is not taxable. She paid federal and state taxes on her taxable income at a rate of 32%, which is not too unusual. The AMT rate would be 28% for her, but only 15% on dividends. She had both interest and dividend income.
I didn't know the Kerry financial disclosure statements were on-line. When I have more time (perhaps this weekend), I'll look to see if there's any there there.
I doubt the story of her refusing to release her full returns with attachments has anything to do with the income shown on it. It more likely has to do with the income that doesn't show up on it due to estate planning, tax shelter and other related possibly legal, possibly dubious --- but definitely difficult to explain to the Democratic base --- items that you'd only be able to tell from looking at the attachments to the returns. She has promised to release the first two pages of her 1040 when filed in October.
Woo Woo! Take a look at this.
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