Monday, November 21, 2011

Billionaires avoid more than just income tax

Billionaires can pull millions out of appreciated assets in ways that allow them to avoid taxes on that cash without violating any IRS rules, reports Jesse Drucker of Bloomberg News.

The ability to avoid those taxes is an overlooked aspect of the debate over whether to increase the income tax that the wealthiest people in the U.S. should pay, the story notes.

“The problem is not that people like Warren Buffett pay tax at a 17 percent rate, it’s that they can use complex transactions not available to most Americans to get cash from their appreciated stock without paying any taxes at all,” said David S. Miller, a tax attorney and former chair of the tax section of the New York State Bar Association.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

G-20 countries should consider whistleblowers to help stop tax evasion

Many countries are trying to crack down on tax evasion as a way to increase revenues. But they are overlooking a powerful weapon: whistleblowers.

Tax evasion and compliance is on the agenda of the group of 20 countries this week. Only the U.S. has a program to reward whistleblowers for reporting tax evasion or other tax law violations. The Internal Revenue Service will reward whistleblowers 15 percent to 30 percent of funds recovered as a result of the whistleblower's information and help if the amount exceeds $2 million, including tax, penalties and interest.

The U.K. took a major step this week to encourage whistleblowers with information about financial crime. The Serious Fraud Office set up a whistleblower hotline and said it protect the whistleblower's identity.