If you pay attention to recent headlines, it may seem that being a hedge fund manager is the equivalent of being a punching bag, but while Donald Trump and others may be wagging their fingers and sparring verbally, there may be good reason to do so.
According to Trump, “The hedge fund guys didn’t build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky. It is the wrong thing. These guys are getting away with murder.”
He goes on to say, “They are energetic. They are very smart. But a lot of them – they are paper-pushers. They make a fortune. They pay no tax. It’s ridiculous, ok?”
While one might argue whether or not hedge fund managers are paper pushers, there is much truth when it comes to using hedge funds to avoid paying taxes. Most hedge funds are limited partnerships with the investors being the partners. There is also a person that manages the fund. This person is paid a certain percent of the profits of the fund.
Due to the fact that the manager is compensated on the profits, the vast majority of the income that is generated by the fund is not taxed as compensation or salary. Instead it is taxed as a return on investment. This means that the income this person receives is taxed as capital gains instead of regular income.
The bottom line is that the fund manager is paying 20% income tax, (capital gains), instead of the typical 39.6% tax rate for those in this tax bracket. It is this loop hole of claiming regular income as capital gains and paying a much lower rate of tax instead of paying ordinary income tax rates that rightfully causes concern and scorn from some politicians and others such as Donald Trump. It is the typical argument of one set of rules for the rich and another set for the middle class.