The Cost of Secret, Offshore Tax Dodging

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Shocking information about offshore tax dodgers was revealed last Thursday, when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a data leak that revealed hundreds of thousands of secret offshore bank accounts and shell companies that help wealthy corporations and individuals avoid paying taxes.

As the New York Times reports:

The consortium did not specify how it got the information or where it came from. On its Web site, the group said “the leaked files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.”

According to the New York Times, more than 4,000 Americans — celebrities, doctors, dentists, and other wealthy individuals and companies — were identified in the collection of leaked financial documents.

So, as it turns out, the problem of offshore tax havens is a very real, very serious one. And they cause very real problems for the vital programs and services that depend on taxpayers, like our schools and senior services.

The same day the data leak was published, The Oregon State Public Interest Research Group published a new study examining how much money is lost from Oregon to offshore tax havens. According to the report’s estimates, “offshore tax dodging could cost the State of Oregon up to $506 million annually, which would be enough to cover the bond measure that passed in November to upgrade Portland Publinotaxcutsc Schools, to fully fund Oregon’s share of the Columbia River Crossing, or to give every household in Oregon a check for $335.”

Earlier this week, Oregon House leaders unveiled their tax plan, which would include crackdowns on off-shore tax shelters.

In the meantime, Oregon Republican legislators have said they are unwilling to consider the Democrats’ proposal to close loopholes that allow off-shore tax shelters without cutting more out of our retirees’ pension plans. From the Oregonian:

Sen. Larry George, R-Sherwood, said he’s willing to have a conversation with Democrats about taxes, but says he won’t budge without more cuts to PERS. Republicans in the House seem to share his opinion.

“Oregonians want a balanced approach,” Kotek said. “If people don’t like these four elements they need to help us figure out how to get to $275 million.”

Read more about the new revenue plan here.

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