As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cracking Down On Tax Havens

A couple days old, but this is very interesting.

In the latest setback to Switzerland’s tradition of banking secrecy, UBS, one of the nation’s largest banks, agreed on Wednesday to turn over information on more than 4,400 American clients suspected by the Internal Revenue Service of using Swiss accounts for tax evasion.

The agreement is likely to unnerve American customers of UBS who do not know if their names will be divulged, and could deter others from opening Swiss accounts in the future.

Whether the deal will change the Swiss banking industry’s culture of secrecy remains to be seen. Smaller Swiss banks say they are confident that they can blunt its effects and continue to profit by finding new, more elaborate ways to protect the privacy of clients. But American authorities have made clear that their pursuit of tax evaders will not stop at UBS.

I would hope it does unnerve UBS customers from opening Swiss bank accounts, considering that those accounts violate US law. I would say that rich people ought to think twice before starting their own offshore tax havens.

By the way, if the President wants to recapture some of his liberal base, he could do worse than emphasizing this outcome. People are justifiably angry that the banks appear to have gotten away with almost destroying the global economy and taking hundreds of billions from the US Treasury. I know that class warfare is messy and all, but showing that a Democratic government does their job and ferrets out rich tax cheats would at least play against this hardening belief that all politicians funnel money to the wealthy. Foreign lobbyists are trying hard to get the DoJ to back off, but if the Administration remains vigilant in the face of that pressure, they can really announce this as a victory. I would like to see conservatives argue in favor of the uber-rich stashing away their cash in offshore tax havens. Really, go ahead.

...Apparently Switzerland knows when to get out of the tax cheat business: they're selling their stake in UBS.

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