Because our audience follows tax-related stories and developments, we know that the term Panama Papers will figuratively ring a bell for many readers.
Although it might seem a long time ago, it was just back in 2015 that the Panama Papers’ disclosure took a front-and-center status in news reports across the world.
Its gist: the discovery of millions of documents relevant to offshore financial holdings of deep-pocketed individuals and companies. Although a recent New York Times piece notes that establishing offshore entities and using them to park or otherwise shield assets “is generally legal,” a public outcry nonetheless surfaced.
And, of course, the IRS probed — and continues to probe, with agents solidly focused on potential instances of tax fraud and evasion.
Tax authorities’ zeal in uncovering criminal wrongdoing will now likely be fueled even further by recent disclosures surrounding the so-called Paradise Papers, which serve as what is essentially an amped-up sequel to the Panama Papers.
Here’s why: Reportedly, there is a trove of files now available for tax officials’ scrutiny that exceeds what was produced in the Panama-centric disclosures.
That means this: an estimated 13.4 million documents that have come to light focusing on a single Bermudan law firm that has long catered to select individual and institutional clients seeking to shield wealth and avoid taxes.
Again, it is premature to insist or even imply that holdings in an offshore account equate with intent to defraud tax officials. Many offshore companies are subject to exacting rules and regulations and are recognized as legal even under American laws.
Still, many people commonly assume that the sole purpose for any individual or company to establish one or more offshore accounts must be to illegally evade U.S. tax exactions.
It will be interesting to see how the Paradise Papers’ disclosures play out.