Jason Ravnsborg is pretty proud of himself. His staff wrote a friend-of-the-court brief that he got to sign and send to the United States Supreme Court, which then ruled unanimously for the side he was backing.
In friending the court in North Carolina Department of Revenue v. The Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust, Ravnsborg is doing the bidding of South Dakota’s arcane and lucrative trust industry, which helps rich people from all over hide their wealth and dodge taxes. Ravnsborg portrays the ruling as victory that protects our rich cash-parkers from any kind of taxation, but the Court emphasizes that North Carolina v. Kaestner is a very narrow ruling.
I would suggest the Court slam-dunked this case for one key reason: North Carolina assessed $1.3 million in state income tax on beneficiary Kaestner during three years in which she received no benefits from the trust. It doesn’t take a tax expert to rule that if you don’t actually get income, the state doesn’t get to tax it.
But let’s not rain too much on Ravnsborg’s happy dance. Let us cheer our top lawyer for offering ancillary arguments to help billionaires win easy cases.