Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Zuckerberg Wedding - The Things You Have To Do When You Are A Billionaire

Originally published on forbes.com.

My friend James thinks he has the Zuckerberg wedding figured out. James has a distaste for marriage. Long story. He is deeply in love with his girlfriend, though, and making her happy is one of his primary goals. They are both geezers like me and have been married before.  So I would just look at it that Zuckerberg is a kid and hasn't been married, so of course he is going to marry his girlfriend. James pointed out to me, though, that the kids nowadays are more into hooking up and cohabiting.  James talks to me a lot, because I am one of the few people that can understand him.  He has a peculiar mixture of idealism and cynicism and like me has seen too many tax returns, which can warp ones thinking. Here is how our conversation went:

James: I figured it out. Transfer taxes.

Me: What are you talking about?

James: Priscilla Chan. It is about transfer taxes.

Me: Who is Priscilla Chan?

James : The girl he married.

Me: The girl who married?

James: You know Zuckenwhatever - the Facebook kid.  (James has trouble with last names of more than two syllables.) You've been screwing around with Dungeon Overlord again instead of paying attention.  I don't know why Forbes ever hired you. (I've given up on explaining to James that I am just a contributor to Forbes.com.)  Mark Zucksomethingorother, the Facebook kid, just married his girl friend.  Her name is Priscilla Chan - Doctor Priscilla Chan.  She just graduated from medical school.  According to one thing I read she wants to be a pediatrician.  That's the medical equivalent of a vow of poverty.  On the other hand, they are the nicest people in the world.  You know what Tony used to say.

Me: Nobody gets one hundred percent. (James and I had a mutual client many years ago who used to wax philosophical.  One of his theories was that nobody could have too much of the good things of life.  A surplus in one area probably meant a deficit somewhere else.  If Tony heard of someone who was rich, smart, healthy and good looking, he would be afraid to get on the same plane with that person.)

James: Yeah. Yeah. Anyway it is just like that bonus I got. Only he has to worry about transfer taxes.

Me: James, that bonus you got was a hundred grand.  Zuckerberg is getting billions from the Facebook IPO.

James: That's where I come out ahead. Few things can make you happier than having your girlfriend be happy.  I get a hundred grand I give my girlfriend ten grand to pay off her credit cards and she's happy. Zuckerberg gets ten billion, he wants to give his girlfriend a billion so she can pay off her medical school loans and personally open up some clinics for the little kids. Sure he could do it with a foundation or something, but he wants her to have the satisfaction of doing that with her own money.  Or maybe she has a lot of relatives to take care of or something. You give your girlfriend a billion, though. The gift taxes will kill you. It would drive me nuts anyway. I can see why he went ahead and married her.

Me: So you think the reason Zuckerberg married his girlfriend was so that he could give her a billion dollars and not have to pay gift taxes?

James:  Absolutely.

Me: Is that what you would have done?

James: Nah.  I'd rather pay the gift taxes.  I'll tell you something though.  The best piece of news in this whole thing is that he married a doc who is going to be a pediatrician.  He sits around all day trying to make money figuring out how to trick you into actually paying something to play Dungeon Overlord, while she is out there taking care of sick kids.  She'll help him understand what is really important.  There are going to be some good things coming out of this.

You can follow me on twitter @peterreillycpa.

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