If you haven’t heard about the Panama Papers by now, let me get you up to date. They are a massive leak of over 11 million documents that expose over 200,000 offshore accounts and businesses. The identities of the shareholders have also been revealed. Many of the people exposed in this leak are influential people, including 5 heads of state who used these accounts and businesses to avoid taxes, and keep their finances free from public scrutiny. Iceland’s prime minister even stepped down after his involvement was brought to light and citizens took to the street demanding his resignation.
So why would an issue of this magnitude not matter? It’s not that I am a fan of hiding money to avoid taxes, or trying to promote it, but it’s also completely legal. Can we really blame people with lots of money for trying to lose as little of it to taxes as possible? If I knew a way I could save on my taxes, I would definitely take advantage of it, too. The real problem with the Panama Papers is the fact that it is legal, and that probably isn't going to change considering that the people who make our laws are some of the people benefitting from these offshore money havens.
So what this really boils down to is a leadership and policy issue. With this being an election year, the Panama Papers should serve as a wake up call to all of us to pay close attention to who we elect to run our nation, as well as the leaders other nations elect. Laws could’ve easily been passed banning these tax avoidance practices, but they haven’t. Instead of trying to blame rich people for using these legal practices, we need to bring attention to the leaders who use their power to further their own interests, instead of representing their constituents.