Story by Kristen Altus
Ken Fisher, the billionaire investor and chairman of Fisher Investments, made it clear on “Varney & Co.” Wednesday that the reasoning behind his latest business decision isn’t so much about politics or taxes, but rather law and order.
“We’ve got lots and lots and lots of states that have capital gains taxes on the left and on the right. California on the left at the highest, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, on the left Illinois,” Fisher told host Stuart Varney. “You can go left, right, capital gains tax isn’t so much. This is about law. [Let me] be real clear. This is about law.”
The Washington Supreme Court recently upheld state lawmakers’ new capital gains tax in an effort to balance what was thought to be one of America’s most regressive tax codes.
Rather than relying on income tax, Washington had a “heavy reliance” on sales and fuel taxes to pay for most public expenses like schools and roads. But the taxpayer cost fell “disproportionately on low-income residents,” according to the Associated Press.
Lower-income families were reportedly paying at least six times more in household income taxes than the wealthiest residents, lawmakers claimed.
But Fisher argued Washington’s new “excise tax” is hiding its true identity as a capital gains “income” tax.
“The fact of the matter is, it’s an income tax. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, acts, flies like a duck, it’s probably a duck,” Fisher said. “But if it’s got the DNA of a duck, it is a duck. And calling a duck a kangaroo doesn’t make it one. It makes the court one.”
Fisher’s decision to leave his firm’s Camas, Washington, campus for their Plano, Texas, facility was criticized by Bloomberg journalist Jonathan Levin, who wrote in a recent op-ed that the billionaire is pushing a “false narrative.”
“Fisher chalked the decision up to taxes, but in reality such moves often have more to do with lifestyle choices and political optics than money. Fisher’s grandstanding makes that clear,” Levin wrote.
“I want to be real clear,” the investor responded, “if they can do this to the law, which is clearly a bizarre reading of the law, this is a legal thing, not a political thing. But if they can do this to the law, they can do any other crazy thing.”
“If you want to call murder petty theft, it doesn’t make it petty theft,” Fisher added to his argument. “No business ought to want to be subject to capricious ruling on that kind of basis in a place like that.”
According to a press release from Fisher Investments, the relocation transition to Texas will be complete by June 30, the company estimates – and with it goes the firm’s $197 billion worth of globally allocated assets.