John Malone’s tax bill doubles…

One of the more interesting footnotes in the proxy that Liberty Media (LMDIA) filed yesterday was a footnote — in Enron Beelzebub typeface, naturally — that disclosed “$745,832 of tax payments made on behalf of Mr. Malone”. That would be John Malone, Liberty’s Chairman, whose net worth was estimated at $2.2 billion by Forbes last month.

What’s particularly interesting is that while Malone’s ranking this year dropped sharply to #553, from 488 in 2007, Liberty spent more than twice as much covering Malone’s tax bill in 2007 than in 2006, when the proxy (in equally tiny print) disclosed spending $319,278 to cover Malone’s tax bill.

What’s not clear from the filing is what these payments are for. On the face of it, it doesn’t appear to be a gross-up simply because the company describes other payments to various executives as gross-ups, but doesn’t describe this payment the same way. Still, it’s hard to imagine what else it would be for. My best guess is that it’s related to the $1 million allowance for personal expenses, as we footnoted here — an increase over the $500K that Malone used to get for personal use of the corporate jet and other such perks.

Still, given the expansion of the CD&A, it seems as if Liberty could offer a little more detail on exactly what this tax reimbursement is all about.