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UNTO CAESAR WHAT IS CAESAR’S

By D Magazine |

There’s a building downtown attached to the First Baptist Church; over the entryway facing Ervay, engraved in large letters in the concrete, are the words “MARY C BUILDING.” The “C” stands for Crowley. Mary Crowley has been a very generous benefactor to the First Baptist Church, having recently donated $750,000 to the church for a new recreation center. She is also the owner and president of a successful Dallas firm called Home Interiors and Gifts. She is also in trouble with the IRS.

It seems that in 1973, Mrs. Crowley paid herself a $943,000 salary. She paid her general manager (who also happens to be her son) a salary of $942,000. Not bad, you say. Not proper, says the IRS. To put it simply, according to tax regulations, salaries are deductible before corporate taxes are paid. Corporate dividends are not. IRS contends that excessive salaries diminish corporate tax payments and that Mrs. Crowley should receive most of her income from dividends, not salary. Because of Mrs. Crowley’s unreasonably high salary, the IRS contends that Mrs. Crowley’s company owes S2 million in back taxes. Mrs. Crowley and her company claim that because of the firm’s fantastic profits, she is not overpaid.

There’s one way to find out. We decided to compare Mrs. Crowley’s salary to the salaries of chief officers of the country’s biggest money-making corporations. Here’s how Mrs. Crowley stacks up:

What this means is that Henry Ford is paid only 1/100 of one percent of his company’s profits. Mary Crowley, by comparison, is paid approximately 14 percent of her company’s profits. (These figures are from 1976 except Home Interiors from 1973; Home Interiors’ 1976 figures might further widen the discrepancy.)

Mrs. Crowley was defended by an officer in her company in a Times Herald story in which he said, “Mary Crowley started out her business using Christian principles and she shares so much of the money she makes with other people it’s ridiculous.” Mary Crowley, for her part, claims that each of her executive officers gives 20 to 30 percent of his money “to the Lord. We’ve got God on our board of directors,” she explained.

Well, we’ve always heard that the Lord works in mysterious ways.