Thursday, July 17, 2008

$100 Billion/Yr in US Tax Cheats

An actual respectable report from the AP, how unusual these days, on very rich US tax cheaters.

GENEVA (AP) -- A U.S. Senate subcommittee accused banks in Switzerland and Liechtenstein of helping wealthy Americans evade billions in taxes each year, and urged the establishment of tougher laws to combat offshore tax havens around the world.

In a report released late Wednesday, the Senate subcommittee on investigations estimated that offshore abuses were costing U.S. taxpayers about $100 billion a year.

It recommended a range of reforms to squeeze tax cheats, including more stringent U.S. requirements for foreign banks and harsher penalties for financial institutions failing to provide the Internal Revenue Service with details on all accounts their American clients are holding.

"Tax havens are engaged in economic warfare against the United States and the honest, hardworking American taxpayer is losing," said Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the subcommittee on investigations, which belongs to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

"The iron ring of secrecy around tax haven banks and their deceptive banking practices enable and encourage tax cheats to hide assets from the United States," the Michigan Democrat said. "Congress needs to enact strong penalties on tax haven banks that help U.S. taxpayers avoid paying taxes to Uncle Sam."

The panel's ranking Republican agreed.

"It is simply unacceptable that some individuals are using offshore tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions to shelter trillions of dollars from taxation, forcing working families to shoulder the burden," Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota said, adding that foreign banks were "exploiting gaping loopholes" in U.S. laws to act as "Al Capone safe houses for evading taxes."