Entries in Tax Evasion (3)


Italy Cracking Down on Tax Evaders, Targeting People by Their Cars

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Across Italy, police are cracking down on tax evaders, and are able to find them by the car they drive. Drivers of Lamborghinis and Ferraris are being pulled over and are asked for their licenses, registrations and tax registration IDs.
The country is currently $2.5 trillion dollars in debt. The specific targeting of drivers with luxury cars is a part of an ongoing tax war, with Italian tax officials trying to change a culture that has often prided itself on avoiding taxes. Police are pursuing drivers to make sure that they are declaring, and therefore paying taxes on, earnings that would allow them to afford luxury vehicles worth as much as half a million dollars. Since the new technocratic government took power in November, it has made tax collection a priority.
The crackdown seems to be working. Italian officials say they have discovered more than $12 billion in unpaid taxes already this year and more than 2,000 luxury car owners who underpaid their taxes. Some say the tax culture is now slowly changing.
But the crackdown has experienced a fierce backlash. Tax collection branches of the national revenue agency have been targets of terrorist attacks, with more than 250 in the last year.
Last week, Prime Minister Mario Monti visited the tax authority’s Rome headquarters and reaffirmed his support of the crackdown and said that rich Italians avoiding taxes hurts the poorest Italians and that tax cheats are like “giving poisoned bread to their children.”
According to one anonymous Ferrari owner who spoke with ABC News, people are very frightened by the tax checks and cross-referencing that tax agencies can perform and that many Ferrari owners have been trying to sell their cars in an attempt to keep a low profile. With the heightened increase in selling back a Ferrari, their value has dropped at least twenty percent.
With the government allowing tax authorities heightened access to bank accounts, “fiscal evasion is a bad thing for everyone, not a cunning habit anymore,” says Attilio Befera, the Italian tax agency’s director. “The Italians’ culture is changing.”
But do people really support this change as much as Befera insists? Everyone can be against tax evasion, especially when someone else is doing it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Swiss Bankers Charged in US Tax Evasion Case

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three Swiss bankers who allegedly helped Americans hide over $1.2 billion in overseas accounts were charged Tuesday by U.S. authorities, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Federal prosecutors in New York claim the bankers, who all live and work in Switzerland, conspired with wealthy American taxpayers to conceal funds from the U.S. government in Swiss accounts, The Wall Street Journal reported.  It is illegal in the United States to not report money in foreign accounts (and income earned on these accounts) totaling more than $10,000 during any given year.

Prosecutors have not named the Swiss bank where the charged bankers were employed, but they allege that the three financial officers opened the secret accounts to acquire business lost by UBS -- another Swiss financial institution guilty of providing undeclared accounts to U.S. taxpayers. UBS stopped helping U.S. customers evade taxes through offshore accounts in 2009 after admitting to charges of conspiring to defraud the United States.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Swiss Bankers Charged for Allegedly Hiding $3 Billion from IRS

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Justice Department Thursday indicted four former Swiss bankers accused of helping Americans hide as much as $3 billion from the IRS.

Markus Walder, the former head of North America Offshore Banking at an international bank in Zurich, Susanne D. Ruegg Meier, a former manager with the international bank, Andreas Bachmann, a former banker at a subsidiary of the international bank, and Josef Dorig, founder of a Swiss trust company, were charged as part of a superseding indictment in addition to four other defendants charged earlier this year.

The Justice Department alleges that these managers and bankers solicited U.S. customers to open "secret bank accounts" that would help to hide assets and evade taxes owed to the U.S. government.

According to a release from the Justice department, the illegal cross-border banking dates back to 1953 involving two generations of Americans committing tax evasion, which included the inheritance of the secret Swiss accounts.

The Justice Department Thursday noted that the indictment is only an accusation, and that the defendants are "presumed innocent until proven guilty."  

Each of the defendants face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 if convicted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio