GREENWICH, Conn. — Members of the Working Families Organization descended on Greenwich on Saturday with an unusual task: They delivered invoices to the estates of billionaire hedge fund managers and private equity managers as they called for an end to tax loopholes for the wealthy.
The group of about 30 protesters traveled by bus from Bridgeport to Greenwich for the event, which they called The Lifestyles of the Rich and the Shameless Bus Tour Protest.
The invoices left at the estates charged the owners "for the havoc they've wreaked on our economy."
The largest invoice delivered — for $1 billion — went to William Macaulay of Greenwich, CEO and Chairman of First Reserve Corp., the world's largest Private Equity fund. He has a net worth of $1 billion.
After the tour, they held a rally at the headquarters of the AQR Capital hedge fund at Greenwich Plaza.
Last year, the state gave AQR an aid package worth $35 million to keep 540 of its employees in Connecticut and add as many as 600 in the next 10 years. The majority of the incentive was given as a $28 million, low-interest loan to AQR.
AQR's three founders all live in Greenwich — Clifford Asness with a net worth of $3 billion, and John Liew and David Kabiller, who are each worth $1 billion. They were new to the 2017 Forbes list of billionaires.
The protestors spoke out against the "carried interest" tax break used by hedge fund managers and private equity managers. Because these individuals make huge sums of money through return on investments by their firms, they pay a 20 percent federal tax rate on their salaries, as opposed to the standard 39.6 percent rate paid by most regular taxpayers.
The organizers of the rally said that is unfair and that closing this loophole could help Connecticut lower its $1.5 billion deficit.
Supporters of the current tax structure say that the carried interest tax break encourages investment and that closing the loophole would drive businesses away. Opponents say that the state sees little return on its investment.
"Despite evidence-based research claiming that closing the tax loophole can raise $520 million a year, Governor Malloy has made it clear that he intends to protect this special benefit for millionaires and billionaires. Instead, he’s asked working folks to foot the bill and make more sacrifices to help fix the state’s budget," the Working Families Organization said.
"That’s outrageously unfair and it’s why we’re taking a bus tour of these tony estates to call on legislators to close this unfair tax loophole."
Greenwich is home to 12 billionaires, including Ray Dalio, founder of Westport-based Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, has a net worth of $16.8 billion; and Steve Cohen, who runs the Point72 Asset Management fund in Stamford, with a net worth of $13 billion.