Tax Court Catches Phony ESOP

June 10, 2011( - According to the U.S. Tax Court, since 1988 Mark Warmoth created two corporations that manufactured nothing except tax-saving retirement plans for their founder.

In 1988, Warmoth founded his first company, Weekend Warrior Trailers, and incorporated it in 1995.  In 2002, Warmoth incorporated Leading Edge and received all 10,000 of the company’s shares of stock.

According to the Tax Court memorandum, Warmoth established a deferred compensation plan (NQDC), an employee-stock ownership plan (ESOP), and a 401(k) plan – even though it was discovered that the companies did not have any legitimate business purpose.

The IRS argued that Leading Edge should not be considered for federal income tax purposes because it lacked any substance and was formed solely for the purpose of obtaining tax benefits. Warmoth argued that there were “potential” legitimate reasons for incorporating Leading Edge, but the court did not agree.

The case is Weekend Warrior Trailers, Inc., et al, Petitioners v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue.  

The memorandum is available here.


-Nicole Bliman