For tax evaders, the coming seven days are a time of panic, self loathing and wrenching decisions. Hanging over it all is the suicide of an apparently terrified plutocrat, reportedly wanted by the IRS for hiding a small fortune.
Finn Caspersen, a New Jersey heir and philanthropist, may have dodged up to $100 million in taxes via accounts in the tax haven of Liechtenstein, sources told the New York Times. Under scrutiny from the IRS, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Labor Day.
And now, amid a major federal crackdown on tax shelters, other tax dodgers face a wrenching choice: Hope they don't get caught and, perhaps, meet Caspersen's fate; or turn themselves in and pay their back taxes. They have a week to decide; the IRS will give them a sort of amnesty if they fess up by September 23, one week from now. Might as well act now, amid an economic collapse that has the fallen rich trying to reinvent themselves left and right. That sort of brutal redemption won't stay in vogue much longer.