No Tax Hike On Private Equity Stake Sales

Feb 27 2012 | 1:42pm ET

Private equity executives can breath a little easier over their future taxes.

President Barack Obama has decided not to pursue an increase on the enterprise value tax. Such a hike would have hit the p.e. industry hard, especially as more and more firms go public.

Under Obama's plan, the enterprise value tax would have been raised in the same way he plans to raise the tax on performance fees—also known as carried interest. But this month, both the president and Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), arguably the most fervent backer of the closing of the carried-interest loophole, have signaled that they'll drop an increase in the enterprise value tax.

The two plan to continue to push for a carried-interest hike, increasing the rate at which performance fees are taxed to as much as 35%, from 15%.

"While the legislation seeks to tax all income earned for managing other people's money at the same ordinary tax rates paid by all other Americans, it also aims to treat investment managers in a manner consistent with other taxpayers who start and eventually sell a business," Levin said.

It's not clear that Obama's and Levin's decision makes much of a difference; the enterprise-value tax hike had essentially no chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

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