Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The biggest tax cheats

The biggest tax cheats
By Robert Kuttner | April 13, 2005
Boston Globe
HOW CAN we possibly reduce the federal deficit and find enough money for high-quality public services without raising everyone's taxes?
Actually, there's a remarkably easy solution. The government just needs to get serious about collecting money from tax cheats. And this doesn't mean audits of ordinary taxpayers or mom-and-pop businesses -- that's not where the big cheating is.
Much of it is in the form of very complex tax shelters, deliberately designed to make the tax evasion techniques so complicated that auditors have trouble figuring out what's legal and what isn't. Much of the rest happens overseas, where affiliates of US corporations arrange to book their profits in tax havens with which the United States has no enforcement treaty.
The Internal Revenue Service recently released a report estimating that taxes owed but not collected in 2001 (the last year studied) ranged from $312 billion to $353 billion. That didn't even count much of the tax evasion by US firms offshore....