The Solyndra Tax Break

October 18, 2012

In a recent twist, Solyndra's investors could be rewarded for their failure, thanks to a tax benefit the Obama administration handed out in a bid to evade political accountability, says the Wall Street Journal.

  • The Internal Revenue Service exposed this double Solyndra debacle last week in the U.S. bankruptcy court for the district of Delaware, which is unwinding the defunct solar panel maker.
  • The IRS formally objected to Solyndra's Chapter 11 reorganization plan, claiming its "principal purpose is tax avoidance."

Having sold off its manufacturing plant, fired nearly 1,000 workers and proven the non-viability of its business model, Solyndra's only real assets are what the IRS calls "tax attributes." These are between $875 million and $975 million in net operating losses that can reduce future taxable income, which the IRS values as high as $350 million. Before it went toes up, Solyndra also accumulated $12 million in solar tax credits that can reduce tax liabilities dollar for dollar.

Tax-loss carry-forwards are routine but worthless if a company can't turn profits to pay taxes on. So Solyndra's owners are asking the court to liquidate the rest of the business and contribute a net $6.7 million to pay off creditors for pennies on the dollar. A holding corporation will then emerge from Chapter 11 that won't make products or employ workers, but it will get the Solyndra tax offsets. The dummy company is owned by Argonaut Ventures I LLC, Solyndra's largest shareholder and the primary investment arm of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Mr. Kaiser is a Tulsa oil billionaire who bundled campaign checks for Mr. Obama in 2008.

Under the bankruptcy plan, taxpayers will recoup $27 million at most on Mr. Obama's $535 million "investment." The IRS and Energy Department are now asking the courts to reject the deal, because bankruptcy is designed to give a business a second chance, not goose a tax return.

Source: "The Solyndra Memorial Tax Break," Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2012.

 

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