Tax-cheating rich and the Republicans who battle their estate taxes


This news may seem just a tad inconvenient for those Republicans working furiously to get rid of the estate tax. Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan unveiled a study this week about the tax-cheating rich. Surprise, surprise, they're using offshore bank accounts to hide their coffers--and there are so many accounts that the feds can barely even keep track.

So while Congress dawdles in its efforts to raise the minimum wage, consider this: The report says rich tax cheaters are so efficient at exploiting loopholes--some legal, some not--that it costs taxpayers about $70 billion annually, or about 7 cents on the dollar.

Now, don't get me wrong: Some of the rich guys didn't make up these schemes themselves. They were helped along by overzealous accountants looking for new ways to game the system. The Senate describes the deals as phony; some senators now want to get rid of all of those tax havens like the Cayman Islands.

Makes a lot of sense, particularly given the fact that Congress may not even be able to get its act together to raise the minimum wage by $2.10 (from $5.15 to $7.25) in three steps by 2009. If they can't do that, let's at least get rid of the rich cheaters--and their enablers.