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The Rich Are Different: They Don’t Need to Follow Tax Law

The incredibly rich aren’t like you and me, they don’t need to worry about breaking the law. . . because the I.R.S. is now handing out amnesty like candy. From the New York Times:

The Internal Revenue Service said on Monday that it would soon announce a new amnesty program aimed at encouraging wealthy Americans with hidden offshore bank accounts to come forward, declare their money and pay taxes owed.

An I.R.S. spokesman, Frank Keith, said that the program would be formally announced “very shortly” and would not offer terms as generous as those put forth in a similar initiative last fall.


The previous so-called voluntary disclosure program, which ended last October and was carried out amid a crackdown on Swiss private banks and their clients who hid money from the government, was used by more than 15,000 Americans with hidden accounts, some holding hundreds of millions of dollars. An additional 3,000 with accounts at various offshore banks came forward after the Oct. 15 deadline.

That would be two amnesties in less than a year for wealthy Americans who broke the law by using overseas bank accounts.

The logic of a special one-time amnesty is dubious. Offering a second one in less than a year creates a clear moral hazard, sending the signal: “don’t worry about breaking the law, there will likely be another amnesty real soon.”

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at