What’s the big takeaway from the shocking drop of the Panama Papers? The leaked documents contain thousands of names, including the most famous and powerful, who are guilty of tax evasion. It's proof positive that there’s a set of tax rules for the wealthy elite, and another for the rest of us.
But in America, our rich and powerful don’t even have to leave the country to get out of paying their fair share. They just go to Delaware. That’s because we have the weakest set of rules when it comes to secretly sheltering cash away from taxes and the law.
After the shocking details revealed this week, countries across the world will be under tremendous pressure to close dangerous tax loopholes. And yet the US is literally the easiest jurisdiction when it comes to creating a secret corporate get-away. It’s time we stood up for ourselves and fixed it - and the good news is that Congress is ready to advance the legislation we desperately need.
Demand action: Congress must pass legislation clamping down on tax havens and corporations operating anonymously.
With the revelations this week, journalists are poring over an unprecedented 11.5 million files revealed from the database of Panama-based Mossack Fonseca. World leaders have been named and outed for using the firm to set up offshore firms to hide their money. That’s the world’s fourth-biggest offshore law firm embroiled in a global scandal, for doing what many American firms do every day.
There aren’t many honourable reasons to park your cash in secret. The corporate practices that we’re talking about are just plain dodgy: tax havens and secret companies are being used to hide assets from tax authorities, thwart investigations, and protect criminal behaviour. And these tax arrangements are destroying our society, starving our public services and forcing us to shoulder the burden.
Iceland's Prime Minister just resigned due to the public outrage, because people are tired of being ripped off by the rich and the powerful. If we act with determination and with a single loud voice we can put an end to the greed and selfishness and make them pay their fair share.
Now is the moment to force Congress to act. We already have the legislation we need ready to go -- it's the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act. In fact, tens of thousands of us have gotten it closer to passing than it’s ever been. Now it just needs a push.
The power is in our hands and let’s use it!
Will you join us? Sign the petition to Congress - it’s time to tighten corporate accountability rules in the US.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 3 April 2016.