The Tax Man Cracks Down

Uncle Sam is desperate for cash and taking an especially close look at the biggest fish.

Not everyone buys the old saw about the certainty of death and taxes -- at least when it comes to the latter. Hence the so-called tax gap, the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid, which at last estimate was running nearly $350 billion a year. So to shrink yawning federal budget deficits, the IRS is taking aim at tax cheats, especially those hiding assets overseas.

For fiscal 2010, the IRS requested a budget increase of $603 million, more than half of it earmarked for initiatives to close the tax gap. That includes hiring nearly 800 new agents to combat offshore tax evasion. Last August's landmark deal between the IRS and Swiss banking giant UBS AG unveiled undeclared assets in some 4,450 accounts held by U.S. residents. Another 14,700 Americans turned themselves in under a partial amnesty program. The IRS will now scour their accounts for more leads. I

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