Wednesday, January 2

Did Paris Hilton get screwed or was it a play to avoid taxes?

When Paris Hilton's billionaire grandfather announced on Christmas day that he plans to give away 97% of his fortune, the news coverage was almost giddy. Was the controversial heiress going to become a pauper?The Guardian Unlimited reported that the 80 year old Barron Hilton is worth over $2.3 billion thanks to the recent sale of the Hilton Hotels Corporation and from the coming sale of Harrah’s Entertainment.

Jerry Oppenheimer, author of House of Hilton, said that Barron Hilton "was, and is, extremely embarrassed by how the Hilton name has been sullied by Paris. He now doesn't want to leave unearned wealth to his family."

Call me cynical, but it seems like the media is ignoring the fact that the mega-rich often use charitable donations to manipulate tax laws. So, let's take a closer look:

First, since most of this wealth was generated in 2007 as the result of two huge sales of almost a billion dollars in assets, you can be sure that Barron was facing some serious taxes. By placing $1.2 billion in a charitable trust this year, he gets immediate tax relief. Convenient, right?

Now, I guess the foundation does do some good work. But don't forget, it also paid Steven Hilton more than a quarter million dollars in 2006. The most recent IRS Form 990s for th Conrad Hilton Foundation show three other Hiltons on the payroll, in addition to a group of investment managers who received over $2,300,000 in 2006.

It sure makes those claims that Barron wrestled millions intended for the poor from his dead father's estate look more interesting.

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