It turns out that Angela Merkel, unlike, for example, our own Republican Party, has no difficulty distinguishing between support for lower taxes and support for tax evasion. And it also turns out that the German authorities are prepared to be energetic about it. They bought a list of tax-cheating clients from a rogue ex-employee of a bank in Liechtenstein, and are now both going after the tax cheats and pressuring the Liechtenstinian bankers and banking authorities to stop facilitating criminal activity.
Better yet, they want to expand the crackdown to Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Austria, all of which allow their banks to be used to hide money from the tax collector.
This is a Very Big Deal. The capacity of rich people to evade taxation puts an upper limit on the progressivity of the tax system and the size of the redistributive project. (Perhaps that’s why so many Republicans in office act as if tax evasion were an innocent pastime.)
Footnote A spokesman for the Swiss banking industry denounced the German intelligence service for using “Gestapo tactics.” Of course, back when the Gestapo actually existed, the Swiss banks happily laundered money for the Nazis. The customer is always right.