Max Ehrenfreund writes: The documents known as the “Panama Papers” have created a global scandal around the ways the world’s rich conceal their wealth from the authorities. The prime minister of Iceland offered his resignation after the papers reportedly revealed that he and his wife had a fortune
on paperhidden away in the British Virgin Islands. British Prime Minister David Cameron is taking criticism as well, and he acknowledged that he profited from a secret family trust.
The Washington Post has not reviewed the Panama Papers or verified their authenticity, but what seems certain is that wealthy people all over the world — and in the United States — pay much less in taxes by moving their income and assets to foreign countries.
In the United States, the Treasury would collect about $124 billion a year in additional taxes — $36 billion from individual taxpayers and $88 billion from multinational corporations — if it weren’t for such schemes, according to estimates by Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley.
That’s a lot of money — and we’re all paying for it, Zucman said.
When the wealthy pay less in taxes, the rest of the population bears the burden. Either the government spends less money, providing fewer public services, or ordinary citizens pay more to make up the cost. [Continue reading…]