Saturday, August 19, 2006

Southern Utah Blog : "Leave the Leavitts Alone"

The title sounds like she is defending some weakling from the schoolyard bully.

I was reading the new Southern Utah Blog and I read a post that made me scratch my head, Gloria Bertram of the Daily Spectrum writes regarding the Leavitt Foundation the following:

"The Leavitts have a foundations and they also have rental property.
Their foundation is providing housing scholarships for SUU students. There is another foundation in the middle of this but the end result is that the Leavitt Foundation is providing the funds. The students that get these scholarships are staying at some of the Leavitt's rentals. So the money goes full circle. And here are my thoughts: So what?

1- Students are being helped.
2- The Leavitts are giving the money through their foundation.
3- The Leaviitts are making less money by renting it to students at a "below the market" price, while they could be renting them full price somewhere else!
4- The university has the option to rent somewhere else but chooses the Leavitt out of price and convinience (only one rental contract instead of 12).
5- They are not breaking any laws. They are giving more to the community that what they are getting back. Maybe this is not the case in other areas of their business but it is in this one.
I don't have an issue with this, those that do, please explain.
If the Leavitt Foundation is providing scholarships, and the Leavitt Rentals are providing below market price and convenience, it sounds to me that it is just a good decision from the University standpoint to rent from the Leavitts."

Does anyone else see the problem with Ms. Bertram's thought processes here? As a tax professional I have two major problems. The Leavitt Foundation has as far as I can see been more of a bank for the Leavitts other business ventures than a charity. The Leavitt Foundation with the meager donations that the foundation made, made the donation to a foundation that gave housing scholarships only to SUU students which (not only by circumstance as Ms. Bertram would like her readers to accept) would be used as rental income to another Leavitt owned business. Lets open our eyes, The Leavitt family took substantial charitable deductions to an organization that non-arms length loans to family business, and also received income from money that was also used as a charitable deduction. Can we say abusive tax scam. However, Ms. Bertram as many Southern Utah-ites turns a blind eye to the fact that the Leavitts obviously engaged in (at least) unethical transaction for the sole purpose of tax avoidance. I wouldn't mind if my tithing generated income to me, but oh wait, that's not the purpose of charity is it.

This type of status quo mentality (that exist in the minds of the politically lazy) is the only thing that stands a chance of keeping Hatch in office. Open your eyes So. Utah!

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