Massive tax evasion by the rich should be punished severely

It’s ridiculously easy to avoid paying taxes if you’re rich, thanks to banks eager to profit by helping you cheat your government and screw your fellow citizens. All you need is no conscience. And, apparently, plenty of people lack consciences. Even still, I’m shocked to learn the scale of tax evasion. Rich Americans are cheating Uncle Sam of an estimated $100 billion in taxes every year:

Senate investigators estimate that Americans who hide assets in offshore bank accounts are failing to pay about $100 billion a year in taxes… The government not only needs the money, but closing down such tax scams is essential for President Obama’s rescue effort to retain public support and credibility.

Some of the banks at the center of the global financial meltdown are prominent purveyors of evasion services. UBS of Switzerland has acknowledged that as of Sept. 30, it held about 47,000 secret accounts for Americans. It has refused to disclose the names of all but a tiny number of the account holders, arguing that it would be a breach of Swiss law. But last month — after UBS got caught soliciting business in the United States — it admitted to breaking federal law by helping Americans hide assets, and the bank agreed to pay $780 million in fines and restitution.

The United States Treasury isn’t the only one being shorted. The Tax Justice Network, a research and advocacy organization, estimates $11.5 trillion in assets from around the world are hidden in offshore havens.

This must stop immediately, and everyone who cheated should be severely punished. None of this “OK, pay your taxes and all will be forgiven” garbage that only encourages cheating by never punishing those caught cheating.

Posted by James on Saturday, March 14, 2009