Is Robert Redford paying his fair share?
New York State apparently doesn’t think so.
Authorities there slapped him with a $1.6 million bill (which includes about $700,000 in interest) for unpaid taxes in connection with the 2005 sale of part of his ownership stake in the Sundance Channel to Cablevision’s Rainbow Media, which he owned in a complicated arrangement through a holding company.
The actor-director isn’t going along with the program, as it were, though. Claiming he already ponied up the appropriate amount in his home state of Utah, Redford is suing to obtain what’s called a “declaratory judgment” to get the bill thrown out on grounds of alleged double taxation of a non-resident. He also wants to get the state to reimburse his legal fees.
Redford sold the rest of his Sundance stake in 2008, a deal valued at about $500 million. The Sundance Channel as currently constituted is based in New York and is now known as SundanceTV, part of the AMC Network. New York hasn’t as yet pursued back taxes for the 2008 transaction.
The channel was originally named after the Sundance Film Festival, an annual Utah event that Redford co-founded in 1978. Redford famously starred in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) alongside Paul Newman. Redford was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Sting (1973), in which he again starred opposite Paul Newman.
The Hollywood Reporter summarized the legal issues in play:
“The lawsuit deals with the nuances of an ‘S corporation,’ which aren’t owned by a large amount of stockholders but rather are closely held with profits passing to individual owners. These owners, in turn, report profits and losses on their own individual income tax. Redford says he did that on his own personal tax returns in Utah from 2005. Now, he’s concerned about double taxation if forced to account for the passive S Corporation that once controlled Sundance Channel.”
A multimillionaire, Redford, 77, is well known as an outspoken, lifelong Democrat and fan of Big Government, which by necessity means Big Taxes.
As the New York Post quips:
When it comes to Hollywood liberals, Robert Redford boasts impeccable credentials. He attacks Republicans, supports President Obama, and was named a ‘Hero of the Environment’ by Time magazine. But when it comes to tax authorities whom he thinks are unfairly targeting his profits, Redford is looking mighty tea partyish these days.”
The Post suggested that maybe Redford — who parenthetically won an Oscar as best director for 1980’s Ordinary People — should make his next movie about how ordinary Americans get jerked around by tax collectors.
Added Breitbart News about the lawsuit:
“If paying taxes is patriotic (as the hard-left would have us believe), Oscar-winning director/actor Robert Redford is taking his anti-American desire not to pay more in taxes than he believes he owes to court… Why not pay the taxes on principle? Redford is a Leftist who believes the rich are under-taxed. Instead of waiting for Congress to increase his taxes, Redford should live the change he desires and just cut a check. Redford’s a gajillionaire. This is pocket change for the Sundance Kid and the tax overpayment will help schools, the wealth inequality problem, and the homeless…”
Those who use their wealth and/or connections to insulate themselves from government regulations they have implemented or help implement are often referred to as “limousine liberals,” or “champagne socialists” in the U.K.
Separately, conservative gadfly Jason Mattera confronted Redford last year about whether his failed movie The Company You Keep glamorized 1960s domestic terrorists.
Do you think Robert Redford is engaging in hypocrisy by fighting New York State over his tax bill?