During the time of the Roman Republic, Cato the Elder would end every speech in the Senate, no matter what the topic, with “Carthago delenda est.” Carthage must be destroyed. Why? Because Cato saw Carthage as a very real and existential threat to the Roman Republic. In many ways, the tech monopolies today are a very real threat to our American Republic. And so the tech monopolies must be broken up—destroyed. The question is not if they should be broken up, but how.
A smart man once told me, “Ned, the tax code and regulations are not rocket science; they are actually history and political science.” It is, in fact, in the history of key tax cases and Treasury regulations—some dating back 40 years—where we can find illumination about how to confront the growing threat of Big Tech.
Let’s first look at the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision in INDOPCO, Inc. v. Commissioner. In 1977, Unilever expressed interest in buying out what was then called the National Starch and Chemical Corporation, later renamed INDOPCO. In expectation of being acquired, INDOPCO hired Morgan Stanley to be its investment banker. Morgan Stanley’s fees of $2.2 million, in addition to some other expenses, were written off as deductions by INDOPCO.
The IRS commissioner, however, took exception to that, claiming that the Morgan Stanley expenses were not deductible as Morgan Stanley’s work, in fact, was a long term asset as it “prettied” INDOPCO up and made it more valuable. Instead of a deduction, the $2.2 million needed to be classified as a long term asset and amortized over time. KEEP READING ON AMERICAN GREATNESS.