Home > Uncategorized > The “Paradise Papers” Should Pose a Question for Congress: “How Much is Enough?”

The “Paradise Papers” Should Pose a Question for Congress: “How Much is Enough?”

November 9, 2017

A few days ago I read about the “Paradise Papers”, a trove of information about the colossal sums of money that are sheltered offshore by corporations, individuals, and— yes– even colleges and universities. The purpose of stashing these funds is to avoid paying taxes. This maximizes profits if you are a corporation, income if you are an individual, and yield if you are investing college funds. The publication of this finding led me to write this letter to the editor of our local newspaper:

The Valley News article on the “Paradise Papers” identified some of the billionaires and corporations who used offshore accounts to shield their assets from taxation. But the article underplayed two key points that should be part of the debate over the GOP’s tax package.

First and foremost, if the current law provides loopholes that make it possible for individual billionaires and corporations to stash huge sums of money overseas, those loopholes need to be identified and closed. Tax avoidance on the scale reported in the “Paradise Papers” erodes the well being of our country and our collective sense of fair play.

Secondly, we need to develop a tax code that explicitly defines “ENOUGH” and levies high taxes in excess of that figure. Is a salary of, say, $500,000 per year ENOUGH? Is passing along an inheritance of, say, $1,000,000 ENOUGH? Are profits of, say, 4% per year ENOUGH? High tax rates for those who have “enough” are not unprecedented. Under Eisenhower the top tax rate was 91% and our economy was healthy. If we could agree on what constitutes ENOUGH and levied higher tax rates above that figure, we might find that there is ENOUGH money to rebuild our infrastructure, provide affordable health care to everyone, and upgrade our schools and public services.

The tax sheltering practices described in the “Paradise Papers” and the amounts of money taken out of the economy as a result of those practices should compel Congress to close loopholes and engage the voters in a debate on the question of how much is enough.

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