Some hot tax shelters are just warmed-over come-ons

Old tax shelters never die, they come back next year with a new cover on them. All an investor need do to prove this is visit Robert A. Stanger & Co. here. A Stanger employee can pull out of his files the prospectus for an oil-technology tax shelter. He tells you this is the third consecutive year he's seen this particular shelter - with only the name changed on the prospectus. ''Everything else is exactly the same,'' he says.

He points to still another prospectus that has the same drilling prospects and management as one sold by promoters of the previous year.

Stanger also accumulates prospectuses relating to the latest ''tax shelter fads.''

Among the hottest of these in the last few years have been the oil-technology shelters. In these deals, the promoters announce that a so-called ''revolutionary'' new method has been found to extract oil or gas from the ground. The limited partners will pay royalties on this new process. The royalties will come from the income derived from any oil or gas drilled.

The problem with these deals is twofold. First, the investor will have to pay taxes on the ''phantom'' income that is used to pay the royalty fee. Thus, he has a tax liability on income he never received. Second, the royalty fee charged is often higher than it should be - which greases the pockets of the people involved in the shelter.

Then there are the ''bookplate deals,'' which involve investors paying inflated prices for the ''plates'' used to print books. To justify charging inflated prices, the promoters appear to have them ''appraised.'' And, since you must be able to show the IRS that you were trying to make a profit, the promoters will charge you an additional fee for marketing. According to one Stanger employee, most of these deals are ruses. ''You're better off giving your money to the Boy Scouts,'' he said. ''At least you know where it's going.''

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