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US Fight Against Tax Evasion Now Includes Israeli Banks

September 29th

tax evasionIn the last few days, the Internal Revenue Service has announced its intention to widen its pursuit of United States tax evaders to include a thorough investigation of Israeli banks. In particular, the IRS will be scrutinizing three of Israel’s largest banks. Investigators suspect that the Swiss branches of these banks have been used by their American clients to avoid paying US taxes.

The focus on Israel represents a major shift, as for years the investigation as been centered on Switzerland.

The investigation is part of a wider crackdown against American citizens who, for years, have been accumulating massive quantities of unpaid taxes by sheltering income overseas.

Investigation Heightens US-Israel Tensions

The shift toward investigating Israeli banks also increases already tense relations between the United States and Israel. While the United States and Israel have historically been close – with the United States functioning as both a close diplomatic and military ally, providing Israel with billions in aid – recently relations have become strained. In the past year, the relationship between these two nations came under pressure when President Obama’s efforts to reopen peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians crumbled.

The current investigation is, however, still only in its preliminary stages. As of yet, the US authorities have only requested general statistical data, and have made no demand for anything more specific. The data requested covers the types of accounts disclosed by UBS during a 2009 settlement with the Justice Department over allegations that it enabled numerous wealthy Americans to evade billions of dollars in taxes.



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