Offshoring Tax Ethics: The Panama Papers, Seeking Refuge from Tax, & Tax Lawyer Referrals
16 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2018
Date Written: March 20, 2018
The fallout from the “Panama Papers” scandal leaves many questions unanswered, including: How did U.S. taxpayers get to the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca? And what were the ethical responsibilities of the individuals (particularly U.S. lawyers) who connected these U.S. clients with Mossack Fonseca, especially in the cases where the U.S. clients sought offshore assistance in order to avoid or evade U.S. taxes? This symposium essay answers these questions and uses insights gained from an examination of the Panama Papers leak to make recommendations about how to respond ethically to referral requests for assistance with offshore tax avoidance/evasion. Specifically, this symposium essay argues that lawyers should internalize, rather than expatriate, more responsibility for these referrals by doing more than what is required to avoid professional sanctions and penalties.
Keywords: Panama Papers, legal referrals, tax, tax ethics, tax avoidance, tax evasion, ethics, professional responsibility
JEL Classification: K34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation