U.S. tells court to order Swiss bank to name American tax cheats

By Calvin Palmer

The Justice Department today urged a federal court to enforce a summons against Swiss bank UBS to reveal the names of suspected American tax cheats.

In a memorandum filed in US District Court in Miami, the Justice Department called upon U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold to enforce the summons that stems from a government lawsuit filed earlier this year.

The case affects 52,000 wealthy Americans who used secret UBS accounts to hide income from the Inland Revenue Service.

The memo said the Internal Revenue Service “seeks the identities of those account holders (and other account information) from a Swiss bank that regularly conducted business in secret within the United States, and systematically violated U.S. law.”

“Tens of millions of Americans report their income, obey the law, and pay their taxes, because it is the law and following the law is the obligation we take on as citizens and residents.

“The summons in this case will help the IRS ensure that those U.S. taxpayers whom UBS assisted to avoid their US tax obligations will also obey the law. The United States has proven its case for enforcement.”

In February, UBS admitted to U.S. tax fraud and agreed to pay $780 million as part of a provisional deal to settle charges by the U.S. government that it helped thousands of American clients use Swiss accounts to evade U.S. taxes.

But U.S. officials have argued this was not enough, and asked for the identities of all such account holders.

The Swiss bank has argued releasing the names would violate bank secrecy laws in Switzerland.

But U.S. officials say foreign law and tax treaties do not shield U.S. taxpayers from liability.

U.S. legislators have accused UBS and other banks of helping wealthy Americans hide about $1.5 trillion in overseas tax havens.

It will be interesting to see the names of the 52,000 cheats, a good many of them will no doubt be those who decry big government but who seemingly have no scruples about being big cheats.

I get sick and tired of the Republican cabal on The Florida Times-Union continually whining about public expenditure be it city, state or federal government, and levels of taxation. I won’t name names, you know who you are.

I wonder if the newspaper’s opinion page will condemn these tax cheats like it does those who abuse the welfare benefit system. It might if the majority of the editorial board adopted a moral rather than a party-political stance.

But this apology for a newspaper operates a double standard in keeping with the hypocrisy for which many Republicans are renowned.

 It also advocates what were once described as “voodoo economics” and the “trickle-down effect” of low taxation, whereby low taxes on the rich encourage greater wealth creation that somehow trickles down and benefits the rest of society.

I long gave up on believing in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy and this platform of Republican economics is on a par with those popular myths.

It would appear that $1.5 trillion far from trickling down to benefit the whole economy simply flooded into the offshore bank accounts of wealthy individuals.

So, instead of holding another “tea party” protest about the levels of taxation, how about protesting against the cheats in your midst? Or are you so driven by greed and selfishness that the moral dimension no longer matters?

And if that is indeed the case, the next time you are sitting in church, just run over in your mind your political beliefs and then ask yourself one very simple question: “What am I doing here?”

[Based on reports by AFP and newsday.com.]

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1 Comment

Filed under Crime, Justice, News

One response to “U.S. tells court to order Swiss bank to name American tax cheats

  1. OS

    Good piece, Calvin. I sometimes shudder at the sheer hypocrisy of these people and the false lives they lead. And they dare to call themselves ‘Christians’! Their faith is as fickle as their morals. Publish and be damned is an excellent cliche in this case.


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