So, err, how does this work?

Panama Papers: US launches criminal inquiry into tax avoidance claims

How can you have a criminal inquiry into something that’s legal: tax avoidance is by definition legal.

9 thoughts on “So, err, how does this work?”

  1. You don’t. You look at the disclosed information to see if there is any evidence of illegal tax evasion or money laundering relating to the concealment of proceeds of crime or corruption.

    Unfortunately everyone from headline writers for the Guardian to POTUS spew out a dog’s breakfast of noise in the area of tax policy that confuses tax evasion (clearly illegal), unwanted tax avoidance (legal but we wish we had the tax revenue anyway) or tax dodging (meaningless made up term).

  2. Whoi says you need to do anything illegal to be prosecuted in the US. just look at the Enron Nigerian Barges case. 4 Merrill Lynch bankers were sent to prison for conspiracy to defraud and two charges of wire fraud. On appeal they were acquitted on the basis that whatever they had done, there wasn’t actually a statute that covered their actions.

    One of the bankers was convicted on another charge of obstructing the grand jury on the basis that he said he did not know about a verbal agreement (which has never been shown), when the documents in the deal clarly stated that any side agreements to the deal were null, void and unenforceable.

    Moral: if US politicians want to find a crime in a political situation, they will find one.

  3. Alex, they ran war crimes tribunals with few laws broken – and ignoring allied actions. Punish the Germans and Japanese, regardless.

  4. How can you have a criminal enquiry into something that’s legal? Well firstly to blacken the reputation of your victim by subjecting him (it’s always a “him”) to a criminal investigation, secondly to create an offence of “obstructing police investigation” when he fails to anser a question to which he doesn’t know the answer, thirdly to enhance the reputation with voters of the “crusading District Attorney” who plans to stand for Governor, fourthly – what, you want an excuse? – there is always a chance that his accountant made an error in filling in his tax form so he may not be entitled to the tax exemption that he claimed.

  5. America has over 300,000 criminal offenses in the Federal law. Every man, woman and child commits an offense everyday by the time they finish their breakfast.

    In terms of taxation, the Federal tax code is over 74,000 pages long. Frankly I doubt any American is truly compliant from a tax point of view which means that they can always convict a person on the contents of their tax return.

    I do sometimes wonder why Americans put up with this.

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