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Wikileaks To Name Swiss Bank Tax Evaders

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the oh-this-will-work-out-fine dept.

Crime 783

eldavojohn writes "The old cliche that the rich and corrupt hold all their money in Swiss bank accounts (to avoid taxation) may finally have a bit of transparency, as the news today is that Wikileaks has been handed a list of account holders tendered by Rudolf Elmer, former banker of Julius Baer. Julian Assange promises a 'full revelation' while Elmer cited his motivation as being: 'I want to let society know how this system works. It's damaging society.' This appears to be real, as Mr. Elmer is soon to appear before a Zurich regional court on charges of coercion as well as violations of Switzerland's strict banking secrecy laws. The public may soon find out that their favorite celebrity, politician or employer doesn't feel responsible to contribute financially to the commonwealth at the expense of privacy."

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Hit them back (5, Funny)

devxo (1963088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34904866)

I guess Assange didn't like that the swiss bank PostFinance closed his account.

Re:Hit them back (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34904958)

Indeed, I question the motivations of both Assange and this Elmer guy.
It's probably just another FUDD tactic.

Re:Hit them back (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34904990)

Aha. Its a scam.

1. Have a Swiss bank confiscate your money
2. Publish name of other customers at bank ...
3 Profit!!

Re:Hit them back (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905032)

FUD tactic or now, if the information is valid and real, this still carries numerous implications with it. For example, were certain wealthy politicians who rail against taxes found to be holding considerable sums of money in non-taxed accounts...

Re:Hit them back (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905116)

Actually it would work better the other way. People who are voting to raise taxes hiding money in no-taxed accounts is where the story is.

Of course people who don't like taxes are trying to avoid them...

Re:Hit them back (2, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905222)

What's the upside here?

Some people get caught not paying taxes. The government just flushes money 5 million different ways every day.

If you ask me, this is as close to a victimless crime as it gets.

Re:Hit them back (4, Insightful)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905256)

Other people have to pay more than their fair share in taxes to compensate.

Re:Hit them back (2)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905474)

Perhaps.

I don't see any credible evidence that an attempt will be made to balance the budget in my lifetime, so it's either unborn paying more than their fair share, or bankruptcy, in which no one pays their fair share..

Re:Hit them back (5, Insightful)

Ice Tiger (10883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905340)

Turning a blind eye sure worked out for Greece didn't it.

Re:Hit them back (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905404)

someone here has a recognizable sig, to the effect of "I like paying taxes; with it I buy civilization" - or to that effect.

or, is common roads, infrastructure and stuff like that too 'commie' for people like you?

the fact that the gov mismanages our funds has nothing to do with the fact that the funds are NEEDED to 'run society'.

you think roads and stuff come from nothing but sunshine and the love of jesus? we BUY those with our taxes, at least that was the initial idea.

when you deny paying at least a reasonable amount of your fair share, you cheat us all. quite disgusting, really. yes, it should be punishable - at least in the court of public opinion.

Re:Hit them back (0)

MichaelKristopeit340 (1967534) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905448)

the "funds" don't exist as they once did... the same "funds" you're claiming the "gov" "NEEDS" are a fiat currency imagined and distributed by the same "gov".

Re:Hit them back (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905492)

A reasonable amount is one thing...

A disproportionate amount while the filthy rich pay virtually nothing?
Or paying for the government to simply WASTE that money instead of building roads or other useful things?
Or even worse, paying so that certain people within the government can embezzle the money...

How much of what you pay in tax actually goes on things that benefit the taxpayers like roads, and how much gets wasted or used on things which are detrimental to the tax payers?

Or more importantly, how much lower could the taxes be if waste/inefficiency was eliminated, and those who avoid taxes were made to pay?

Re:Hit them back (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905434)

Think of how much money we could flush on NASA if rich people weren't evading their taxes.

Wait... That didn't sound right...

Re:Hit them back (4, Insightful)

Unordained (262962) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905510)

If you ask me, this is as close to a victimless crime as it gets.

No. Tax-payers are supposed to pay taxes to the collective pool of money called the government, to fund the services that we collectively receive. These people don't contribute, but do receive. We are all victims, which is why the government goes after tax-evaders on our collective behalf. No only do we lose the money these people should have paid, and the rest of us (nominally) have to make up, but they add to the overall system waste by forcing us to pay investigators, prosecutors, judges, etc. to hunt down and collect on tax-evaders.

There are plenty of real victimless crimes out there, and they need rectifying. I'll thank you not to make that fight harder by applying the same label to clearly victimful crimes.

Re:Hit them back (5, Insightful)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905118)

FUD tactic or now, if the information is valid and real, this still carries numerous implications with it. For example, were certain wealthy politicians who rail against taxes found to be holding considerable sums of money in non-taxed accounts...

Wouldn't it be more damaging for politicians who supported high taxes to be holding considerable sums of money in non-taxed accounts?

Re:Hit them back (5, Insightful)

MrDoh! (71235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905144)

Either way, it's going to be hilarious.

Re:Hit them back (2)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905218)

Sorry, yes...I have a case of typing stupidity this morning -_-;;

Re:Hit them back (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905130)

Hmm. I think it would be more hypocritical and damaging for wealthy politicians who SUPPORT taxes who have considerable sums of money in non-taxed accounts.

Re:Hit them back (1)

cfalcon (779563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905400)

...then they'd be philosophically consistent with their stated beliefs?

Re:Hit them back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905146)

I see what you did there...

Re:Hit them back (5, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905194)

Who cares about the motivations? We don't have to like Assange or Elmer to appreciate the disclosure of the info.

Re:Hit them back (3, Interesting)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34904986)

I think this is going to backfire on him. I think he believes that if he does something to help governments (allowing them to track down tax dodgers) that they may leave him alone.. I doubt it, usually national security trumps internal revenue.. but not always.

It's also going to backfire because many of his supporters believe strongly in personal privacy (while oddly, wanting full transparency for everything else), and they will view this as WikiLeaks invading personal privacy. (it's not just the filthy rich that have "hidden" bank accounts).

Re:Hit them back (1, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905008)

It's also going to backfire because many of his supporters believe strongly in personal privacy (while oddly, wanting full transparency for everything else), and they will view this as WikiLeaks invading personal privacy. (it's not just the filthy rich that have "hidden" bank accounts).

A lot of his supporters, especially on slashdot, also probably think it's a sign of virtue to evade paying your taxes.

Re:Hit them back (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905088)

A lot of his supporters, especially on slashdot, also probably think it's a sign of virtue to evade paying your taxes.

It's a sign of virtue for me to not pay taxes. It's disgraceful that anyone richer than me should avoid them. Other people hold similar views.

Re:Hit them back (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905170)

The problem is that the system is set up that only the rich can evade taxes. Factory line worker Joe Blow doesn't make enough to go put it all away in a secret swiss bank account, nor does he have enough to hire an accountant to manage some holding companies abroad, etc etc.

Most people on Slashdot think evading taxes is immoral based on the fact that it's an exploit in the tax laws that only the rich can afford to do. If it were possible for anyone and everyone to avoid paying taxes, I don't think anyone would mind. We're all just pissed off that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and taxation is supposed to help balance that out.

Re:Hit them back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905514)

Most people on Slashdot think evading taxes is immoral based on the fact that it's an exploit in the tax laws that only the rich can afford to do. If it were possible for anyone and everyone to avoid paying taxes, I don't think anyone would mind. We're all just pissed off that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and taxation is supposed to help balance that out.

I say that everyone should pay taxes. If I could cheat my way out of paying them, I wouldn't. In fact, I would gladly pay more than I do now, PROVIDED they went towards the common good, rather than to benefit some buddies of (pick your favorite politician). Examples include: college education for all who are able and willing and universal health-care.

Re:Hit them back (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905320)

Not sure why you're a troll, this is a very common view. People poorer than me are lazy and should work harder, people richer than me should pay more taxes, and people exactly like me should pay no tax at all. You'll find people expressing more or less this view any time the public is polled about tax.

Re:Hit them back (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905266)

It's also going to backfire because many of his supporters believe strongly in personal privacy (while oddly, wanting full transparency for everything else)

How is that odd? Seems obvious to me.

Re:Hit them back (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905108)

I guess Assange didn't like that the swiss bank PostFinance closed his account.

Actually, wikileaks has long disclosed a lot of information about Julius Baer bank, starting a few years back.

Assange opened the PostFinance account under false pretenses, they were entitled to close it. PostFinance isn't a "normal" Swiss bank, it's owned & run by the post office.

PostFinance isn't what you use when you're trying to evade taxation by hiding cash, you would use one of the privately owned Swiss banks.

Re:Hit them back (4, Informative)

krou (1027572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905224)

Actually, it's more interesting than that. Julius Baer, the bank Elmer worked at, is the same bank that, in 2008, tried to take down the Wikileaks domain. From here [guardian.co.uk] :

Assange is now talking: he is explaining how Julius Baer, Elmer's former bank, tried to use a US court in 2008 to take down the WikiLeaks.org domain. He said it was then WikiLeaks realised that the techniques it had developed to deal with Chinese censorship would be needed for operating in western countries too.

The bank lost their injunction on first ammendment (freedom of speech) grounds with WikiLeaks supported in the case by US campaigners and media organisations, Assange tells the conference. He compares this to what he calls the "McCarthyist" state of play today.

Karma's a bitch ...

Re:Hit them back (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905386)

Should he also be releasing dirt from people he actually does like. There is dirt on both sides of the fence. He has his own dirt too.

Better article (5, Informative)

AaxelB (1034884) | more than 3 years ago | (#34904902)

There are more details here. [nytimes.com]

Personally, I'm just gonna sit back and watch this unfold *grabs popcorn*

NY Times Links Broken Via Submission Process (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905120)

There are more details here. [nytimes.com]

It is indeed a better link and was one I found in my Google Reader this morning. However, I also have noticed continuously that New York Times links provide me headaches and disappointment when used in Slashdot's submission process. Here's a recent example, earlier this morning I submitted a story about video games and mental health problems [slashdot.org] . Now in that submission I referred to a well written New York Times article an used this URL:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/17/us/17gaming.html

Every time I previewed it or edited it, it came out like that. But when I hit submit, it magically changed to this URL:

http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/17/us/17gaming.html&OQ=_rQ3D4&OP=70b1f348Q2FQ5D-2yQ5DgoksPooZQ27Q5DQ27W33Q5DW3Q5D3VQ5DisQ5D3VdQ241Q26rdQ25OZ14

What is going on? I've written to CmdrTaco about this and I thought he said they'd look at it ... like their system prefetches URLs or something? Makes adjustments to avoid TinyURL in the submission? Avoids redirects that might go to goatse? I don't know. What I do know is that if you go to the firehose and type in 'nytimes' as your search term you will find submission after submission with login/paywalled URLs exactly like the one above. Here's one [slashdot.org] and another [slashdot.org] and another [slashdot.org] ad infinitum.

So when you do this, people get upset they can't read the article and I heavily sympathize with them and generally consider my submission a failed attempt when that happens. So the solution? Don't link to the New York Times in submissions! I'll find some other site to send a billion Slashdot eyes at if they don't want their page views. It really is a shame because I love the New York Times and think they have some great writers but from the above it's evident the affection is asymmetrical.

Whatsay, you just paste the whole NYTimes story (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905322)

It'll be shorter than your explanation of why the links don't work :)

Can you say (0)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 3 years ago | (#34904912)

Can you say "Identity Theft".

Re:Can you say (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34904944)

Seriously, Identity theft?
WTF happened to Terrorism and Espionage????

This piece of dog-shit with legs needs to be gunned down with his head mounted at the very top of a nice sharp pike - perhaps while still alive and screaming from the gunshot wound as it enters his rectum.

I'd bet just about anything he only exposes one political/national side's leaders in this - and not because theres only one corrupt side either.

Re:Can you say (0)

HBD (450014) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905000)

Mod Parent Up

Re:Can you say (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905164)

Mod Parent Up

What, on the basis that ignorance is knowledge and hysteria is wisdom?

Re:Can you say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905006)

I'd bet just about anything he only exposes one political/national side's leaders in this

Because Joe Habbib in bumfuckistan is so rich he keeps his money in swiss bank accounts?

I'd bet just about anything that he can expose a list of every account holder ever and it'd boil down to two groups: rich americans and nazi germans.

Re:Can you say (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905010)

you mad bro.

Re:Can you say (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905014)

Seriously, Identity theft?
WTF happened to Terrorism and Espionage????

This piece of dog-shit with legs needs to be gunned down with his head mounted at the very top of a nice sharp pike - perhaps while still alive and screaming from the gunshot wound as it enters his rectum.

I'd bet just about anything he only exposes one political/national side's leaders in this - and not because theres only one corrupt side either.

guess someone has a hidden bank account...

Re:Can you say (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905020)

Oh Sarah, you're such a silly goose.

Re:Can you say (1)

hihihihi (940800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905038)

Call it whatever you wish to, but on behalf of all indians (and as a matter of rather my opinion, on behalf of everyone around the world tired of corrupt politicians)...
Thanks Julian :)

Media whore (-1, Troll)

Revek (133289) | more than 3 years ago | (#34904924)

Assange is looking more like a media whore everyday.

Re:Media whore (0)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34904942)

I dunno. I'm pretty sure that he genuinely hates both rich people and the United States as well.

Re:Media whore (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905178)

I dunno. I'm pretty sure that he genuinely hates both rich people and the United States as well.

You say that almost as though it were a bad thing.

Re:Media whore (2)

choko (44196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905210)

I don't think he hates the US. I think he is releasing this information so the citizens can be aware of some of the nefarious actions US leaders have been up to. Look at some of those leaks. Everything from child prostitution to killing the bees is in there.

Re:Media whore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905372)

Actually, in its official capacity, the US Government (specifically, the IRS) would just love to know names and amounts for tax evaders. The auditing smackdown will be of biblical proportions. The boost to the bottom-line will ease some budget problems, too.

This may get the US Government to almost forgive Assange for all the embarrassment over all the Pentagon leaks.

Re:Media whore (2)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34904952)

You do know that it's been a while since we heard anything about him. Beside he is sorta the spokesman of wikileaks, so...

Re:Media whore (4, Interesting)

upside (574799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905124)

I don't care if he's a monkey and likes to play a recorder with his butt.

It's a Good Thing (tm) this information is being made public.

These negative responses are almost as juicy as the leaks themselves. You've left us wondering whether you're a tax evader, a Freedom Fry? Or maybe it's just jealousy or a secret crush... not trying hard enough to be an astroturfer.

He should post the real name of tank guy but if he (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34904966)

He should post the real name of tank guy but if he does then he may wish he went to Guantanamo Bay.

Why are they announcing this stuff ? (5, Insightful)

matt007 (80854) | more than 3 years ago | (#34904980)

I do not understand why wikileaks is telling everyone what they will reveal later.
Can't they just post it immediately ?

Re:Why are they announcing this stuff ? (2, Insightful)

rojomojobojo (1844758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905048)

Well, of course they need the media hype. What would the purpose of a media whore be, if they can't get all the hype?

Re:Why are they announcing this stuff ? (5, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905090)

I don't recall hearing Wikileaks making this announcement at all though - it sounds like someone handed over some big leaks than immediately turned the corner to the local news outlet and said "GUESS WHAT I JUST HANDED TO WIKILEAKS".

This news report is by some other news agency, not Wikileaks.

Re:Why are they announcing this stuff ? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905456)

Coincidence that Steve Jobs is announcing a leave of absence on the same day?

Re:Why are they announcing this stuff ? (4, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905100)

I do not understand why wikileaks is telling everyone what they will reveal later. Can't they just post it immediately ?

Better media management. It's easy for something even as large as the US diplomatic cable leak to get swept under the rug of the incessant 24 hour news cycle. By letting it out in bits and pieces he keeps the media interested and talking about Assange and Wikileaks. He is also going for brownie points by establishing relationships with more mainline media outlets. Those take time. TFA also mentions that Wikipedia is trying to evaluate the provenance of the disks, although it's not clear how they plan on doing that.

Rather a dangerous game he's playing. He seems to enjoy it - likely feeds his apparently large ego. I would wonder, though, just how long he can keep this sort of thing up. I don't see an heir apparent in Wikileaks, but there are other sites that are trying to duplicate their efforts.

As long as there are people with source material who are willing to give it to essentially total strangers we may see this as the new big thing. Information wants to be freed....

Re:Why are they announcing this stuff ? (5, Insightful)

surgen (1145449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905272)

During the Iraq war log leak someone at wikileaks, probably Assange, was interviewed on NPR where he said that just publishing something once they got it didn't garner the media attention on the documents that they wanted. It was only because of the fact they pussyfoot around with the media that they're interested in the information.

When their goal is to get people to see the information they're publishing rather than just let it sit somewhere on a web server, it may be worth it for them to play the games they do. Yes its stupid that to get the attention they want they are forced to play "the game", but they've played it damn well.

poor title (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905002)

Having a swiss bank account doesn't mean you're a tax evader. They don't report information to the (US) IRS, but neither do many other foreign banks. If you run a business, your revenue isn't automatically reported to the IRS either.

Re:poor title (4, Informative)

MrDoh! (71235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905188)

They don't report amounts, but they DO now report that you DO have an account with them now.
If you hold money abroad, and file a US tax return, you have to submit your holdings. You could get away with it (probably) before as the banks wouldn't say a word.
Now the government knows you've got /something/ elsewhere...

Re:poor title (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905398)

Keep in mind, the U.S. taxes *income*, not *wealth*. Having a lot of money sitting around isn't criminal. Only not paying tax *when you acquire it* could be criminal.

Re:poor title (1)

upside (574799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905228)

Haha, true. There's a high probability that having a Swiss bank account correlates to being Swiss yourself.

However, It looks like this isn't just a list of bank accounts: the documents "detail attempts by wealthy business leaders and lawmakers to evade tax payments."

Not just "the rich and powerful" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905030)

I used to work for a Swiss Bank in compliance IT, so naturally would trawl through the most restricted "beneficial owner" papers when bored.

Despite their exotic reputation, the vast majority of accounts were held by fairly ordinary folk (there seemed to be an inordinate number of german dentists). So while this may sound like a blow at the rich and powerful, there's going to be a lot of very unextraordinary middle class folk whose financial details are laid bare by this. Having a Swiss bank account is not illegal in itself.

You might want consider whether you'd like your finances laid bare before you acclaim this as another win for david over goliath.

Re:Not just "the rich and powerful" (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905232)

I used to work for a Swiss Bank in compliance IT, so naturally would trawl through the most restricted "beneficial owner" papers when bored.

Yeah, yeah, and I used to work in a nuclear power station and take uranium home with me at night, just for the lulz.

Only Tax Evaders and Criminals to Be Named (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905300)

Despite their exotic reputation, the vast majority of accounts were held by fairly ordinary folk (there seemed to be an inordinate number of german dentists). So while this may sound like a blow at the rich and powerful, there's going to be a lot of very unextraordinary middle class folk whose financial details are laid bare by this. Having a Swiss bank account is not illegal in itself.

From the New York Times coverage [nytimes.com] :

A former Swiss bank executive said on Monday that he had given the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, details of more than 2,000 prominent individuals and companies that he contends engaged in tax evasion and other possible criminal activity.

Emphasis mine. Elmer is doing this because he feels the list he has compiled is a list of unjust individuals and right now Wikileaks is doing all in their power to verify that these individuals are, in fact, tax dodgers. He says the list has 40 politicians and “pillars of society” worldwide among those two thousand.

You might want consider whether you'd like your finances laid bare before you acclaim this as another win for david over goliath.

Precisely why I ended the summary with "at the expense of privacy." And it's not just tax evasion. You do realize that if Julius Baer is associated with heinous criminals worldwide that it could get ugly on an international level, right?

Re:Not just "the rich and powerful" (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905328)

That depends on what exactly gets released. It's perfectly possible for Wikileaks to only publish accounts above a certain limit.

This will be interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905042)

On the one hand, the public will be screaming about all the billionaires' money that goes untaxed, and demanding that politicians close tax loopholes and inpose windfall taxes on the people named by wikileaks.

On the other hand, the billionaires so named will be applying pressure to somehow make it all go away. I wonder which way our elected representatives will go on this one.

I fully expect the media to be conveniently and entirely distracted by some complete non-news story the second the leak appears, for the exact amount of time it takes for it all to blow over.

Re:This will be interesting (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905480)

Rich people will do what ever it takes to stay rich. Film at 11.

Ya, this isn't news at all. News would be a billionaire that isn't using tax dodges or shelters or havens.

The Swiss dirty public secert. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905044)

Just how long has world known that the Swiss are the bankers of choice for criminals, dictators, and the idle rich that do not want to pay their taxes?
I mean really this is no shock to the world. I do have to wonder just how much blood money is in Swiss banks and how much of the wonderful Swiss lifestyle is paid for with the misery of the world.

Let's see how he filters the release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905054)

I'd be surprised if he didn't leave out those evaders who support his cause.

I realize this will harm my "Karma". (4, Interesting)

UncHellMatt (790153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905070)

Considering the love-fest for Google around these parts, but they've been effectively dodging taxes for a few years. Why would it be a shock if politicians, celebrities and sundry millionaires / billionaires do the same?

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_44/b4201043146825.htm [businessweek.com]

While I am all for businesses making a profit, I am NOT all for a multi-billion dollar company paying effectively 2.4% while I continue to pay nearly 30% of my income. The argument "Well, that gets turned into research and good pay for employees" still doesn't float IMO, when you have the higher executives of Google being paid millions. Reduce the salaries of those PHBs down to something reasonable, pay the rank and file programmers and researchers that money, and pay taxes like everyone else.

Re:I realize this will harm my "Karma". (2)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905234)

Sure, as long as you adjust the laws to account for crap like Steve Jobs' "one dollar sallary and make the company pay for everything I do", or Bill Gates' "allow charities to use Office for free, then claim a donation equal to the number of copies used times Office's MSRP" schemes.

Though, as another poster once said, as long as the potential savings of tax evasion are higher than the rates of lawyers and accountants, stuff like this will inevitably continue to happen.

Re:I realize this will harm my "Karma". (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905242)

A multi-billion dollar company is a bunch of buildings and infrastructure, a building can't enjoy a car or yacht. In order for the human owners of the company to be able to do so much as buy a car with the profits they have to pay themselves out of the company first, and at that point they get taxed far more "2.4%", in fact they get taxed much higher than your 30%. Business owners pay massive amounts of taxes, disproportionately, so this lie that business owners are all somehow evading taxes at the expense of everyone is just blind anti-rich bullshit and propaganda.

Also why is the implication that merely having money in a Swiss bank account automatically makes you a tax evader?

Finally the only reason anybody pays taxes is that they're forced to. NOBODY on slashdot complaining about how evil the rich people are for trying to minimize their taxes, would pay their taxes either if they could get away with not doing so. Nobody. Not one person here would voluntarily pay taxes if they didn't have to. So let's all cut the hypocrisy.

Re:I realize this will harm my "Karma". (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905382)

The Supreme Court has even ruled that you have neither a legal obligation nor even a patriotic duty to do anything but minimize your tax burden.

Why Single Out Google? (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905396)

There's a whole Slashdot article [slashdot.org] with people ripping apart Google for "double Irish" and "dutch sandwich" styles of tax evasion.

The only reason that it should hurt your karma is that you confusingly singled out Google when your own article lists Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, etc. Why pick on Google when everybody plays the same screw-the-taxpayer game? They're all crooks avoiding taxes in ways that a single individual like myself that makes very small fractions can't enjoy.

You'll lose karma when you spin it like this: "Apple Hurts Schoolchildren by Avoiding Taxes" and "Google Welcomes World Peace by Denying War Machine Its Pound of Flesh." See what I did wrong there?

Re:I realize this will harm my "Karma". (1)

cacba (1831766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905438)

There are two distinctions.

One: Google is working within the laws though abusing their intent. Hiding money and ignoring local laws (ie declaring any amount above $100k that is outside the country) is illegal. One is a problem with the system, the other is ignoring the system.

Two: Elected officials have more trust placed in them then a private corporation and need to be judged to a higher standard.

Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (-1, Troll)

Joey Vegetables (686525) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905084)

Outing honest people whose only so-called "crime" is wanting to avoid the theft of their hard and presumably legitimately-earned dollars is completely and totally wrong, and negates much if not all of the good Wikileaks has done in exposing actual government and corporate wrongdoing. It also makes Wikileaks, directly or indirectly, an accomplice to the very real crimes of the state that it has spent so much of its time trying to expose.

What sense does it make to out those crimes, but also at the same time sign what might as well be the death sentence for many, many honest people who were heroic and brave enough to, at great personal risk, try their best to avoid funding those crimes?

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905184)

They don't have to pay, they could move to another country. It's hardly theft for the government to make you pay for services you use. Why should I have to pay all my taxes when these jack asses are sending their money overseas to avoid having to pay taxes?

But then again, I bet you're one of those people who wants your taxes cut, but wants somebody elses services to be cut or diminished to finance it. I think the term for that is "fiscal conservative."

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (5, Insightful)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905196)

I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905518)

there you go. the sigfile that keeps on giving.

while we don't like paying taxes, what happens if everyone stops?

this is not complex. not any more complex than: if you stop going to work, eventually money stops coming in. sometimes life is simple like that.

we are not arguing about *whether* to pay taxes but that the rich get out of paying their fair share. we can debate what fair is, but what's clear is that they pay little to no taxes. not even close to fair, in anyone's book.

its a cheat and we let the privileged class get away with it. and how WRONG that truly is, too.

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905526)

Unfortunately it always comes with a side-order of corruption.

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905220)

I can't help but think this is an olive branch of sorts to the very nations embarrassed by wikileaks. "Here are your white collar criminals. Here is your money. Let's go easy on Julian, shall we?"

And as to your assertion that these aren't criminals: I don't know if this is flamebait (probably!) or heart-felt opinion but this is a clear-cut case of people getting around a law, be it "Right" (in the categorical imperative, universally just sense) or wrong. Get caught? Get punished.

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (2)

Ice Tiger (10883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905226)

If they don't like paying for things like Police, Fire departments, Military etc then they can always move to a tax haven where they don't have to.

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905264)

Because tax evaders are also "heroic and brave enough" to keep their money for themselves and not fund non-evil government projects like fixing the road, bridges, aquaducts, etc.

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905270)

Have you ever considered that most states (including the US) is effectively run by the rich and powerful? If you have, then you would be a lot more measured in your reply, rather than babbling off absolute nonsense.

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (3, Insightful)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905286)

Outing honest people whose only so-called "crime" is wanting to avoid the theft of their hard and presumably legitimately-earned dollars is completely and totally wrong

Tax is not theft. Someone evading tax is not honest.

Black is not white, whatever you libertarians might like to believe.

If taxation is theft in a democratic country, (4, Insightful)

stomv (80392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905306)

then so is the use or reliance on roads, public schools or universities, police, firemen, zoning codes, enforcement of contracts, national defense, and so forth. Which is to say, taxation is not theft, and a civilized society is not free of financial cost.

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905308)

Outing honest people whose only so-called "crime" is wanting to avoid the theft of their hard and presumably legitimately-earned dollars is completely and totally wrong, and negates much if not all of the good Wikileaks has done in exposing actual government and corporate wrongdoing. It also makes Wikileaks, directly or indirectly, an accomplice to the very real crimes of the state that it has spent so much of its time trying to expose.

What if they are not honest people, but are in fact (for example) dictators stealing money from Tunisia or some other African country? Should they still act with impunity and should their actions still be hidden if they are exposed to wikileaks?

Tax evasion is also a crime in most countries, and rightly so. If that's what they are exposing here they would also be doing good in my opinion (that's tax evasion not avoidance). Finally, I'm not aware that the death sentence is imposed for evading tax, so perhaps tone down the rhetoric a bit?

However no-one knows yet what this information is exactly, and who it is on, so it is really far too early to judge this whistleblower and wikileaks. The guy is ruining his life to do leak this and will probably go to jail for it, so I imagine he has some pretty strong reasons to release the information, possibly because he feels morally obliged to...

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (1)

upside (574799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905324)

This really takes the cake. How about you stop "stealing" the use of all the public services being paid for by all other hard working people?

Re:Outing criminals is one thing . . . . (4, Insightful)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905384)

Outing honest people whose only so-called "crime" is wanting to avoid the theft of their hard and presumably legitimately-earned dollars is completely and totally wrong, and negates much if not all of the good Wikileaks has done in exposing actual government and corporate wrongdoing. It also makes Wikileaks, directly or indirectly, an accomplice to the very real crimes of the state that it has spent so much of its time trying to expose.

What sense does it make to out those crimes, but also at the same time sign what might as well be the death sentence for many, many honest people who were heroic and brave enough to, at great personal risk, try their best to avoid funding those crimes?


Should I Monty Python you? It's so overdone though.

Reg: They've bled us white, the bastards. They've taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers' fathers.
Stan: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers!
Reg: Yeah.
Stan: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers' fathers!
Reg: All right Stan, don't belabour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!
Man: The aqueduct?
Reg: What?
Man: The aqueduct.
Reg: Oh yeah, yeah, that they've given us, yeah, that's true, yeah.
Man: And the sanitation.
Stan: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like.
Reg: Yeah, all right, I grant you, the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things the Romans have done.
Mathias: And the roads!
Reg: Well, yeah, obviously the roads. I mean, the roads go without saying, don't they! But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct and the roads...
Man: Irrigation.
Man: Medicine.
Man: Education!
Reg: Yeah, yeah, all right, fair enough.
Man: And the wine.
All: Yeah, yeah, the wine!
Francis: Yeah! yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Reg, if the Romans left.
Man: Public baths.
Stan: And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.
Francis: Yeah, they certainly like to keep order. I suppose they're the only ones who could in a place like this!
Reg: Yeah, all right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us!?
Man: Brought peace.
Reg: Oh, peace. Shut up!

Well i think this is great and hilarious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905166)

Assange may be a bit dubious himself, but i doubt this is 'revenge'. I think people are very keen to see this list - because it is wrong what the super rich are up to here, avoiding taxes and hiding money they may not rightfully have. This is great. And it supports the view that the tables are turning a bit faster now - the people (the shafted) v the rich and powerful (the would-be Bloefelts).

sick of wiki gonna-leak (1, Interesting)

mrjatsun (543322) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905168)

I'm getting sick of Assange's promises of all this great information they are "going to leak". He has all of this info on corruption in the US banking system, on rich people evading taxes, and a bunch of other info which will be released if he disappears.

If he has information on illegal dealings, corruption, etc., release it.. Why the threats, why the talk? His current behavior is more like someone
trying to shake down folks, not someone trying to uncover the truth.

Re:sick of wiki gonna-leak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905332)

Perhaps by pre-announcing it, he hope more insiders will hear about and send him additional info, so he can 1) have more info to release, and 2) cross reference similar info from multiple source to better corroborate the info from the first source.

Re:sick of wiki gonna-leak (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905338)

That's because Assange is simply a cockend. All the bullshit do-gooder/morality police posturing doesn't change the fact that he pisses and moans when he doesn't get his own way, just like a petulant child. The sooner he disappears, the better.

Well now (0, Troll)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905216)

This could be interesting. It's one thing to piss off governments and having made yourself so public you are afforded some protection by your celebrity. Pissing off some private citizens with deep pockets could mean you're found floating in a river.

Either way, Wikileaks is out of control. I just hoped they're caught and stopped. There are ways of whistle-blowing but this sure isn't the most most ethical by any means. They're wielding their information not just as an offense weapon (as most whistle-blowing would be) but also as a defense and sometimes as a preempt simply because they can. Just because you know something doesn't mean you should say it. Obviously, few on the board are married.

Scam for profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34905294)

Its a scam of course!

1. Have a Swiss bank confiscate your money
2. Publish name of other customers at bank ...
4 Profit!!

I don't understand the trolls above here. Do people really believe that it is good that the richest people dont have to pay their taxes? Do you guys really want to support these Swiss-Caribbean loopholes?

What is more damaging to society? (2, Troll)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905304)

An individual who seeks to minimize his tax obligations or a government that feels that it is ENTITLED to tax everything that moves?

Privacy? (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905352)

Not everyone who has money on a Swiss bank account is guilty of tax evasion. Since I assume WikiLeaks doesn't have the tax forms of the people on this list, they can't know who of them are tax evaders, and who simply hold their money there for other reasons (maybe they want to hide it from some near relative, and maybe even for good reason).

It's one thing to give the tax office this data. It's another thing to make it public.

Again: Just having money on a Swiss bank account isn't a crime, nor proof of a crime. Publishing it however invades the privacy also of law-abiding beople who just happen to have money there for legitimate reasons.

Oh good lord (3, Insightful)

Mysteray (713473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905402)

The public may soon find out that their favorite celebrity, politician or employer doesn't feel responsible to contribute financially to the commonwealth at the expense of privacy.

Switzerland has great banks. In fact, there's at least one whole country where everybody puts there money there. There's no reason in the world not to put money in them. Having money in a Swiss bank is not a crime and it doesn't imply you're a criminal or a tax cheat. For example, maybe people are spooked by the circus surrounding US banks or something.

The static from the US IRS got so bad that Swiss banks simply closed all accounts of "American persons". They completely kicked Americans out of their customer base. I find that pretty darn disappointing that my country is acting so obnoxiously that I personally can't do business on equal footing with the rest of the modern world.

The rich and powerful take what they want (1)

prionic6 (858109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905450)

we steal it back for you

Don't see the correlation (2)

js3 (319268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34905452)

What does having a bank account have to do with taxes? Taxes are supposed to be about the money you earn, not the money you have. Funny how this is turning out.

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