THE CHEATING OF AMERICA: How Tax Avoidance and Evasion by the Super Rich Are Costing the Country Billions—and What You Can Do About It

Charles Lewis, Author, Bill Allison, Joint Author, Center for Public Integrity, Joint Author . Morrow $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-380-97682-9

Probing everything from smart legal maneuvers to outright tax fraud by the wealthy, this fascinating, highly readable survey explores the tax code's haphazard evolution since 1913, and how it has favored rich individuals and large corporations over average taxpayers. Citing IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti, who testified in 1998 that tax evasion costs the federal government $195 billion annually, Lewis and Allison et al. (The Buying of the President) note that almost 1,000 families earning more than $200,000 paid no income tax in 1995 and that corporate income taxes, which made up 28% of federal tax revenue in 1956, now are only 10%. Familiar ploys like hiding money in offshore trusts, tax shelters and nonprofit fronts figure in these sensational tales, but people like movie producer Saul Zaentz—who stashed profits from One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest offshore and later settled the IRS claim for $26 million with a payment of $1.5 million—loom larger. Despite stiff competition, Joseph and Pamella Ross inspire the most outrage for fleeing in 1986 from a grand jury investigation of Joseph Ross's tax evasion on the government contracts that made his fortune. The couple's elaborate travels and disguises bear astonishing witness to how far some people will go to avoid paying the taxman. As these tales of privilege and chutzpah set readers' blood to boil, the authors judiciously urge their audience to demand fair tax treatment from lawmakers. What the rich don't pay, the rest of us do, they remind us. Little guys everywhere will read this book with righteous indignation. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/23/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-06-008431-8
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