Every so often I come across a news story that’s more enjoyable to read when I add a vindictive “ha ha ha ha ha” after each sentence. For example:
Rich Americans who have evaded taxes by hiding foreign holdings have about a week to turn themselves in to an Internal Revenue Service amnesty program or gamble they will not be caught.
Ha ha ha ha ha!
In fact, most of this news article is enhanced with a little maniacal laughter. That is, unless you’ve been in the habit of hiding money you owe the IRS in a Swiss bank account maintained by UBS AG. And since hiding money from the IRS is equivalent to stealing from your fellow citizens (in the form of, for example, making sure the bridges you all use never get the maintenance they need, and schools are using outdated books, etc.), I’m thrilled to see this moving forward.
It would’ve been better if we’d managed to get the names of all of the American cheaters hiding the needed pothole-fixing money in Switzerland (the original stated goal was to get the names of 52,000 account owners), but I won’t let that get me down. I never thought I’d see even this much go-get-em attitude from the IRS. (I should point out that this isn’t a Democratic or Republican plan – it started under Bush and Obama is simply continuing it.)
The fun part now is that nobody is saying yet who is on the list of about 4,400 account holders that will be turned over to the IRS, so the IRS started an “amnesty” program for volunteers who are willing to come forward now, instead of risking a worse punishment later.
The IRS said that, in one week of July, about 400 individuals turned themselves in under the amnesty program. That was four times higher than the number of tax evaders who stepped forward in all of 2008, according to the agency.
The risk of not joining in the amnesty program now is paying much more than you owe and possibly criminal prosecution. The deadline is September 23, 2009. Here’s the amnesty program Q&A page on the IRS web site, in case you think you might need it.
By the way:
At the same time, IRS officials have said other foreign banks are being queried for possibly helping the wealthy evade taxes, although they have declined to be specific.
Ha ha ha ha ha!
Tax evaders rush to beat amnesty deadline, Kim Dixon, Reuters, Sep. 24, 2009
Image credit: zolierdos
Updated June 20, 2014 and originally published September 15, 2009.