Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Billionaire Julian Robertson Notches Tax Win For New York City Non-Residents


A divided three-member New York State Tax Appeals Tribunal has upheld an administrative judge’s finding that billionaire hedge fund pioneer Julian H. Robertson Jr. wasn’t a resident of New York City in 2000, saving him $27 million in tax.

In a dissent, Tax Commissioner Carroll R. Jenkins said he feared the decision would create “confusion and mischief in future cases” by improperly shifting the burden onto tax collectors to prove Robertson was in the city on certain days, rather than requiring Robertson to “demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he was not within the City.”

The appeals decision and the $27 million hinged on Robertson’s whereabouts on just two days. According to the previously unreported 62-page decision issued last month, before taking an apartment in the city in 1996, Robertson was warned by advisors not to spend more than 183 days in the city, or he’d be taxed as a city resident—even though his legal domicile was a 10 acre estate in Locust Valley, Long Island. Being a resident would make all his worldwide income subject to the city’s stiff levy, now 3.88%. Robertson assigned his long time executive assistant to track his days and warn him when he was using up days too quickly or nearing the 183-day limit.

In 1998 and 1999, while Robertson’s late wife, Josephine, was being treated for cancer in New York City, he spent more time there and willingly paid city taxes. (She died this past June from a recurrence of breast cancer.) But despite his public support for the estate tax , Robertson, now 78, clearly didn’t’ want to pay New York City any tax he could legally avoid. He maintained he was in the city for only 183 days in 2000 and so shouldn’t be taxed as a resident that year. (Tiger Management, Robertson’s firm, has its offices on Park Ave. But in 2000, Robertson was closing down his own hedge funds and didn’t have to be at the office every day.)

Blog Archive