Remember when Hank Paulson grudgingly left Goldman to become Treasury Secretary? As was disclosed subsequently, the move may have been ungrudging in retrospect due to a very specific ulterior motive: in July 2006, Henry Paulson liquidated 3.23 million shares of Goldman in a one time public sale. At the then GS stock price of $152 this meant a one time gain of $491 million. But not just $491 million - $491 million tax free. The reason: In 1989, the government created a one-time loophole for select high level positions to "help attract highly talented professionals away from the private sector." Thanks to the loophole, the candidate could liquidate their entire portfolio without paying a dime in capital gains taxes. Without this loophole, had Henry sold his shares at the exact same price and time, he would have been liable for more than $200 million worth of state and Federal capital gains taxes.
Moments ago, as we reported, the CEO of Walmart, Mike Duke, retired. And while he will hardly pocket quite as much as Hank Paulson, since unlike Hank the Tank he will be subject to taxation, his departure may raise even more eyebrows as his retirement package, to which he is now entitled, is a whopping $113 million, or about 6,182 times greater than the average 401(k) balance of a typical Wal-Mart worker according to a NerdWallet analysis. Naturally, this is orders of magnitude greater than the already debatable ratio of CEO compensation, which was $20.7 million in 2012, or about 305 times more than the average Walmart manager, and 836 more than the take home of the median Walmart worker.
NerdWallet's take below:
These pension plans, which typically consist of non-qualified retirement plans, are offered at the company’s discretion and are reserved for top executives. CEOs often defer receiving their multimillion-dollar cash bonuses till their retirement years, storing the cash away in a retirement plan that typically allows them to pay lower taxes once they draw on the money.
A key factor behind massive CEO pensions is CEO total annual compensation, which typically consists of cash bonuses and stock options awards. In September, the SEC proposed rules requiring publicly traded companies to disclose the ratio of their CEO’s compensation to the median compensation of all other employees. While the rule is currently undergoing a 60-day public comment period, NerdWallet Taxes has calculated the pay gap ratio between CEOs and non-executive employees, which include managers and non-managers.
Walmart’s CEO tops the list with a pension that is more than 6,000 times larger than the non-executive employee’s average 401(k) balance of $18,000, according to Walmart’s latest January 2013 figures available from financial information company BrightScope. Walmart’s employee 401(k) plan was valued at $18.1 billion, but covered roughly 1 million employees, the highest in our sample.
WMT discussed this previously, when Walmart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan told HuffPo he took issue with the study’s description of Duke’s retirement package as a pension, noting that it is technically a deferred compensation plan that accrues over time.
“Our CEO has been with us since 1996, and so [the compensation package] is obviously something that’s been acquired over many years,” Buchanan said.
“We are the world’s largest retailer, and this [the CEO job] is a pretty tough job,” Buchanan said. “We want to make sure the right person is in that job. We have a responsibility to our shareholders to have the right people in the job.”
And now that the CEO has had enough of doing his tough job, Mike will have much more time to work on practicing his smile.