What could make the divorcing McCourts less popular in Los Angeles? Have the public find out they plan to double ticket prices in the next eight years? Check. Find out their fight for control over the Dodgers will last through the new season? Check.
The McCourts, who own the Los Angeles Dodgers (so she says; he says he's the owner and she's not), jointly pocketed income totaling $108 million from 2004 through 2009, according to documents Jamie McCourt recently filed in the couple's divorce case in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
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On that sum, they paid zero federal and state income tax. Jamie suggests that some tax breaks will apply this year too.
Who says our tax system needs reform?
How do they do this? Oh, it’s the fun of tax accounting, but let’s try to explain. As best we can. The McCourts claim tremendous financial losses from properties they owned before the Dodgers, losses that can be written off their taxes ad which carry over year-to-year. Then there is depreciation (a way to account for wear and tear of a building or something one owns). How all this happens, exactly, the McCourts lawyer couldn’t explain but he assures us it’s legal. Sadly, he’s probably correct.
If all that doesn’t make you mad enough, enjoy this, also from the Times:
The tax benefits reaped by the McCourts helped turbocharge their lifestyle. There are eight houses, including four in Holmby Hills and Malibu. The McCourts treated their family and business checkbooks as "largely one and the same," according to an e-mail from a McCourt executive Jamie filed in court. (Oddly, the e-mail ascribes to her the philosophy of "why have a family business but to support the family lifestyle.") This paid for meals in the best restaurants, floral arrangements for home and office from the finest florists, country club dues, personal travel on the Dodgers plane, Jamie's makeup "for Dodger events" ($386 a month).
Your tax dollars hard at work.
The growing problem for the McCourts — beyond their apparently ugly financial situation — is how all this is playing in the community. The McCourts — that includes you, Frank — are on their way to being public enemies. Los Angeles likes them less and less each day, with each revelation. This divorce is ugly, public and is going to drag out through this season (at least). It’s hard to focus on the field when there is more drama in the courtroom.
And none of it makes the McCourts look like good people. The kind of people you want owning your favorite team.