Feeble audit procedures are allowing tax cheats to evade billions of dollars in U.S. tax liabilities each year by hiding funds in offshore accounts, government investigators told Congress.

"Offshore tax evasion has become a large and growing element of the tax gap, and the IRS is increasingly outgunned in its effort to enforce tax rules in the international economy," Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., said at the kickoff of hearings on Capitol Hill into the problem.

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