By Steve Hunley
Randy Boyd has spent many of his millions of dollars in flooding the airwaves in Tennessee trying to win the GOP nomination for governor. Always describing himself as a “conservative businessman,” Boyd has shown a keen aptitude in reading the polls and cranking out new radio or television ads to try to convince the voters that he is the most conservative Republican since Ronald Reagan.
Now we find out Boyd has taken advantage of a tax loophole called “double Irish” to keep millions of dollars in his own pocket. Other corporations, most notoriously Apple, have done the same thing to avoid a heavier tax bite from both U. S. and international governments. Randy Boyd’s only public role in government was as Governor Bill Haslam’s Commissioner of Economic and Community Development. In that particular role, Boyd was to help recruit business to Tennessee and of course, attracting businesses to Tennessee is supposed to provide more and better jobs for Tennesseans, as well as additional tax revenues for state and local governments. The benefit of the double Irish tax setup was to shield millions of dollars that would have otherwise been paid in taxes by Boyd’s company.
It’s hardly heard of by the average taxpayer but it is a ploy used by not only Apple, but giant corporations like Microsoft and Facebook. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad in Boyd’s case if he weren’t running for governor and if he didn’t have a record of backing tax increases paid for by working people. Boyd bobbed his head up, like a great many Chamber types at the time, to support the largest proposed property tax increase in Knox County’s history. That particular tax increase proposal was urged on by then-superintendent of schools Jim McIntyre. Boyd spoke before the Knox County Commission, asking the commissioners to approve the huge property tax hike. Boyd ended his remarks by pleading with the commissioners to “do the right thing.” Boyd also supported Bill Haslam’s gas tax, a tax which affects every working person. The thing about property taxes, sales taxes, and gas taxes is few ordinary working Tennesseans can utilize a tax shelter and avoid paying what they owe.
Working people don’t have a convenient tax shelter to avoid paying higher taxes on food and gas. Few every-day working people can take advantage of a subsidiary company with an address in the Cayman Islands to avoid increased taxes on bread and butter and gas. Few of those same hardworking people can afford to take a trip overseas, much less form a corporation to avoid paying taxes.
According to an analysis of Boyd’s company’s taxes done by a California law school professor for the USA Today network, it is “estimated the company paid an effective tax rate of a little more than 1 percent.”
There’s nothing illegal about it, but it sure does seem more than a little callous and pretty darn hypocritical for Boyd to be in favor of increasing taxes for the average citizen while using tax shelters for himself and his business.
You should have taken your own advice and done the right thing, Randy.