A 70-something corporate lawyer in Sao Paulo’s financial district is ready to come clean with a secret that’s weighed on him for decades: He owns $200,000 in undisclosed cash illegally stashed abroad.
He’s not alone. Well-to-do Brazilians have hidden as much as $400 billion in offshore accounts from the nation’s tax authorities — and not always for nefarious reasons. It’s not uncommon that an otherwise law-abiding Brazilian of a certain age and professional standing would have sheltered at least some assets abroad, motivated by five currency failures since the 1970s, hyperinflation starting in the 1980s and bank-account seizures in the 1990s.
Now, in a bid to raise cash amid a crippling budget deficit, the government is giving these wealthy tax dodgers a one-time take-it-or-leave-it offer: Come forward, pay a tax and a fine, and the slate will be wiped clean. Against the backdrop of political crisis following the vote of Brazilian legislators to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, a corruption crackdown at home and tighter banking restrictions abroad, many Brazilians have concluded the amnesty deal isn’t so bad.