No need to guess what accounted for the big increase. When Liberty Chairman John Malone calls the shots, big money decisions are almost always driven by a desire to minimize taxes. (One of SVP Albert Rosenthaler’s chief jobs last year was to “participate actively” in the Reforming America’s Taxes Equitably (RATE) Coalition, which lobbies for lower corporate tax rates, according to the Liberty proxy filed at the SEC today.) Liberty execs loaded up last year, the proxy says, because “we wanted to avoid a potential loss of the compensation deduction” if tax laws changed this year, which seemed to be a real possibility late last year as the country approached the so-called fiscal cliff. That contributed to Maffei‘s lopsided compensation package which included $875,109 in salary, a whopping $53.9M in option awards, $2.2M in non-equity incentives, and $252,323 in other compensation. The total makes Maffei the second highest paid Big Media CEO for 2012 — behind CBS’s Les Moonves who made $62.2M — based on the proxies filed so far. Malone, who controls 43.1% of the company votes, defers most of his compensation and just collected $807,366, +50.7%. All of the other execs named in the proxy saw their packages increase anywhere from 589% to 706%.