revenue commission plans to tax the “cowboy cocktail” | Regional News
The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee plans to examine how the state might make money from some, possibly nefarious, trust funds.
Thanks to weak oversight and the state’s strict privacy laws, wealthy people around the world have begun funneling their money into a special form of trust fund here, the Washington Post reported late. from last year.
These secret trust funds consist of a Wyoming-based trust with interlocking private companies. The Post called it a “cowboy cocktail.”
“Wyoming’s trust magic formula is well known in the field for people who want to escape revenue and remain anonymous,” said Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, who co-chairs the revenue committee.
These types of trust funds are taking on renewed importance due to the war between Russia and Ukraine. There is evidence that some of the trusts may contain huge sums of money belonging to Russian oligarchs.
Case said the war was “not part of the original motivation” behind examining trusts as a topic during the interim.
The Wyoming Legislature Board of Management decided on Friday what topics legislative committees will address during the interim period between now and next year’s general session. During this time, the committees hear from the public, stakeholders and other legislators on some of the state’s most pressing issues. From these debates, the committees sometimes draft bills.
The case gave no indication that the interim revenue committee would produce a bill that would tax or expose trust funds in Wyoming; he expects his committee to “explore” and “learn” about it.
“It may not be this year or even the next five years,” he said.
There are still a number of questions regarding the “Cowboy Cocktail”. Chief among them is the question of how many such trusts here contain ill-begotten gains, let alone money from outside the United States.
“We have to be careful here,” Case said. “A lot of people have trusts. Ordinary people doing fairly ordinary jobs can accumulate enough money to form a trust.
It’s unclear how many of the trusts contain money from outside the United States and how many are tied to families in Wyoming.
“Many of us are scratching our heads about this,” said Ashley Harpstreith, executive director of the Wyoming Taxpayers Association.
Equality State Policy Center executive director Jenn Lowe raised the issue of the trust fund at the revenue committee a few weeks ago. When it was launched, she was on the same wavelength as Case: she wants the subject to be explored above all else. Lowe declined the Star-Tribune’s request for comment.
Wyoming culture could play a big role in the upcoming Cowboy Cocktail debate.
“Wyoming has always had a strong sense of, ‘Let’s not assume people do bad things. Let’s give people anonymity,” Case said.
The people of Wyoming also possess deep national pride, and the state has seen notable opposition to the war in Ukraine. At the same time, Wyoming has a long history of anti-taxation and has struggled to pass various taxes on the wealthy that could have generated revenue for the state.
Follow state political reporter Victoria Eavis on Twitter @Victoria_Eavis