Goldman Sachs Succeeds Where Gore Fails

Lloyd Blankfein / AP

Al Gore was not the only one who tried to avoid the higher tax rates that took effect in 2013.

Gore tried, but failed, to push through the $500 million sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera by Dec. 31 to avoid paying the higher tax rates that came with the fiscal cliff deal.

Unlike Gore, however, Goldman Sachs succeeded in evading the tax hike by awarding $64.8 million to its top executives one month ahead of time.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

As 2012 wound down, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. awarded 10 of its top executives a combined 508,104 shares one month earlier than normal and ahead of higher tax rates that kick in this year.

At Monday's $127.56 closing price, the shares were valued at $64.8 million.

The grants are related to restricted shares awarded as part of prior years' compensation, according to a series of filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Monday. They aren't related to 2012 compensation, the filings said. About 48 percent, or 245,838 of the shares granted overall, were withheld by Goldman to pay taxes, the filings show.

Such awards typically are paid in January, when Goldman also pays out bonuses for the prior year. The early awards weren't limited to the top of the company, either. "The December delivery of shares went to a wider group of employees than the named executive officers," a spokesman said. He declined to elaborate.

Goldman Sachs CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein was one of the executives awarded the stock that is regularly given to executives in January. Blankfein received 66,065 shares, 33,245 of which were withheld, netting him an award valued at more than $4 million.

Blankfein has been a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party and is a frequent guest of President Barack Obama at the White House. Blankfein appears on the White House Visitor Log 14 times. Additionally, Blankfein was the sole Wall Street banker invited to the White House for a meeting to offer Obama advice on how to approach the fiscal cliff.

Blankfein has also made it clear that he stands with Obama when it comes to raising tax rates.

Blankfein said in a CNN interview that he supports moving the top marginal tax rate for families making above $250,000 a year to 39.6 percent.

"I think if that's what it took to make the math work, when you look at the entitlement side and when you look at the revenue side, I would not preclude that," Blankfein said in regards to the tax hike.

Though Blankfein applauded the fiscal cliff deal on Twitter, it appears that he would prefer to avoid its financial results when it comes to his own money.