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Tax Me If You Can (full documentary)

Frontline, 19 Apr 2023
In 2004, FRONTLINE investigated the rampant abuse of tax shelters dating back to the late 1990s, finding that some of America’s most respected accounting firms were responsible and that American taxpayers were paying for it. (Aired 2004)

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As the documentary “Tax Me If You Can” explored, the tax shelter became one of corporate America’s biggest hidden profit centers in the 1990s and early 2000s. The General Accounting Office estimated that bogus tax shelters at the time cost the government more than $85 billion.

Correspondent Hedrick Smith spoke with government officials, tax experts and industry insiders to expose these tax shelters. His reporting led him to some unexpected places — from the city of Dortmund, Germany, to the Cayman Islands. The documentary examined how difficult it was for the Internal Revenue Service to find tax shelters and how the tax shelter wave prompted a federal investigation. The ultimate victim in this scheme, experts in the documentary said, is the honest taxpayer who is left to make up what companies aren’t paying.

“Tax Me If You Can” is a FRONTLINE production with Hedrick Smith Productions. The co-writer, director and producer is Rick Young. The co-writer, correspondent and senior producer is Hedrick Smith.

Explore additional reporting on "Tax Me If You Can" on our website:

#Documentary #Taxes #TaxShelter

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FRONTLINE is produced at GBH in Boston and airs nationwide on PBS.

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Park Foundation; the Heising-Simons Foundation; and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen.

Prologue - 00:00
America’s Tax Shelter Epidemic - 1:17
How American Companies Used Cross-Border Leasing Deals For Tax Benefits - 4:06
IRS Struggled Amid ‘90s Tax Shelter Epidemic - 11:07
Steering The Wealthy Into Tax Schemes - 22:20
A Federal Investigation Into Tax Shelter Abuses - 35:09
Tax Schemes Adapt To New Rules - 43:28
Credits - 52:40
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