Look like rental property to you?
A small but growing number of American corporations, operating in businesses as diverse as private prisons, billboards and casinos, are making an aggressive move to reduce — or even eliminate — their federal tax bills.
They are declaring that they are not ordinary corporations at all. Instead, they say, they are something else: special trusts that are typically exempt from paying federal taxes.
The trust structure has been around for years but, until recently, it was generally used only by funds holding real estate. Now, the likes of the Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and operates 44 prisons and detention centers across the nation, have quietly received permission from the Internal Revenue Service to put on new corporate clothes and, as a result, save many millions on taxes.
The Corrections Corporation, which is making the switch, expects to save $70 million in 2013. Penn National Gaming, which operates 22 casinos, including the M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas, recently won approval to change its tax designation, too.
Changing from a standard corporation to a real estate investment trust, or REIT — a designation signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower — has suddenly become a hot corporate trend. One Wall Street analyst has characterized the label as a “golden ticket” for corporations…
At a time when deficits and taxes loom large in Washington, some question whether the new real estate investment trusts deserve their privileged position.
As an example of bending over to kiss corporate butt:
…The Corrections Corporation and the Geo Group successfully argued that the money they collect from governments for holding prisoners is essentially rent. Companies that operate cellphone towers have said that the towers themselves are real estate.