When Bose Corporation founder Amar Bose decided last week to donate the majority of shares in his company to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the donation raised some interesting tax implications.
While MIT will now have majority ownership of the consumer electronics maker, the shares are nonvoting and the university won’t be able to influence the company’s actual operations, as The New York Times noted.
In addition, under the terms of Dr. Bose’s gift, MIT can’t sell the shares he donated, nor can the institute participate in the management or governance of the audio company, according to the univeresity. Dr. Bose will continue as the corporation’s chairman and technical director. Meanwhile, Bose himself will likely be able to claim a hefty tax deduction for his gift to his alma mater. Bose received his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees from the university and taught there for 45 years.
Is Dr. Bose actually making a gift to MIT, or to himself? The gift is reminiscent of a variety of tax shelters that have involved charitable donations in name only, but those usually involved the “charity” selling the shares back to the donor at some point in the future. The IRS restricted that type of activity back in 2004.
Whether or not the gift is a tax shelter is open to question. Still, it’s a gift that MIT could hardly refuse.