Some have said hedge funds aren’t worried about losing carried interest because it doesn’t really affect them. “It’s well known that hedge funds don’t benefit from carried interest,” said Robert Willens, a tax and accounting advisor.
Trump campaigned on many promises, among them a demand that hedge funds pay their share of taxes, saying they are “getting away with murder.”
Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a former hedge fund manager and like Cohn a former Goldman Sachs executive, said carried interest may be preserved for companies or “other entities that create jobs.”
Here’s where the nine-page tax reform framework released on Wednesday may actually help hedge funds, though: It doesn’t mention carried interest. Instead, the outline focused on narrowing the number of tax brackets and raising standard deductions for individual filers, cutting the corporate tax rate and bringing corporate profits held overseas back to the United States. It would end the individual deduction for state and local taxes.
But it also proposes a 25 percent maximum tax rate for sole proprietorships, partnerships and other small or family-owned businesses, a definition that could apply to hedge funds and other professional services firms, Willens said.
Ending the individual tax deduction for local and state taxes would hit affluent taxpayers in states like New York and New Jersey hard. But significantly lowering the rate on partnerships and other small or family-run businesses (aka, a lot of hedge fund managers) could be a profitable tradeoff.
“I would be more than happy to trade the local and state tax deduction for the lower pass-through rate,” Willens said. (He noted that his consulting firm would benefit.)
Asked about carried interest on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday, Cohn said: “As we continue to evolve on the framework, the president has made it clear to the tax writers and the Congress that that is his position. That was his position during the campaign and he continues to support the position that carried interest is one of those loopholes that we talk about when we talk about getting rid of loopholes that affect wealthy Americans.”