Plastered across the front pages of newspapers and taking up significant space in social media outlets is the scandal of the Panama Papers.
An anonymous source leaked over 10 million internal files that exposed thousands of individuals, companies, political figures and organizations, many of whom had committed at least some form of tax evasion. This bust is so big that it has led to the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister, who was getting away tax-free even when his country was going through an economic crisis. But why should this matter to the little people who file their taxes just like any other average Joe, and who honestly wouldn’t mind being able to avoid paying some taxes, themselves?
The millions (and for some, billions) of dollars of the overbearingly wealthy aren’t being properly taxed. Money that should be going toward education, healthcare, defense and social security are staying in the overflowing pockets of the affluent.
This leads to higher taxes for the middle class because we are missing out on all of the money that could have been collected if the CEO of a major corporation wasn’t being stingy.
Even that doesn’t even justice to the severity of this issue. If it was just a handful of people, this wouldn’t be too big of a deal… but as of now there is an estimate of $21-32 trillion dollars being burrowed away in offshore accounts.
The role of the prominent international banks like UBS, HSBS, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs that are receivers of bailout money from taxpayers and — let’s not forget — also involved in the financial crisis of 2008 is also a surprise. These are the same companies that specialize in helping the wealthiest of the wealthy hide their money offshore away from tax authorities.
So where is the repercussion? Why aren’t thousands of people on this list being arrested? Well, because for the most part this is all legal… not ethically sound, but legal nonetheless. So maybe the first step to eradicating this is to make stashing cash offshore illegal. We can’t depend on those in power to make decisions based on their regard toward their fellow citizens, because the proof is in the pudding… they don’t give a damn as long as their money stays green and plentiful.