For the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the saying about death and taxes being life’s only certainty probably rings true — particularly taxes. Laurene Powell Jobs learned she must pay $867 million in capital gains taxes and is being advised to unload millions of Disney and Apple shares worth nearly $7 billion.
According to Bloomberg, Powell Jobs also faces a 2013 deadline when capital gains taxes rise from 15 percent to 20 percent, as well as a potential 3.8 percent tax on unearned gains from the sale of shares. Jobs owned 5.55 million Apple shares worth $2.05 billion and 138 million Disney shares valued at around $4.74 billion.
Although before his Oct. 5 death Jobs put the shares in a trust to avoid probate taxes, his estate will likely be spread among his widow and their four children. Ironically, Powell Jobs has a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University.
In what could be the Wall Street version of a tag sale, unloading the shares could face problems, particularly for Disney. The 138 million shares Jobs owned represents 12 times the company’s average daily trading volume, making it more likely an institutional investor, such as a hedge fund, may grab the shares, Bloomberg reports. There could have been even more Disney shares available before the animation giant bought back $5 billion worth of Jobs’s stock in fiscal 2011.
As for Apple, Powell Jobs could easily sell shares of the iPhone and iPad maker without making much of a ripple in the open market. His 5.55 million wouldn’t make a dent in the 17.6 million shares traded each day.
But no matter the buyer, the sell-off likely runs counter to Jobs’s image as a counter-culture icon who scoffed at traditional business. Then again, dumping more than a 100 million shares on Wall Street is a memorably chaotic send-off in its own right.