Boston (Feb. 19, 2004) -- The widespread scrutiny of lucrative tax shelters and the accounting firms, law firms and investment banks that peddle them takes to the small screen tonight, when the Public Broadcasting Service will air a special one-hour report on tax shelter abuses since the late 1990s.

In "Tax Me If You Can," which airs tonight at 9 p.m. on PBS, Frontline correspondent Hedrick Smith takes a closer look at tax shelters in interviews with government officials, tax experts and industry insiders, including former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti and Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

According to the Frontline report, Rossotti, who served as IRS commissioner from 1997 to 2002, estimated that taxpayers are paying 15 percent more than they should because the government isn’t collecting all that is owed -- with illegitimate tax shelters a leading cause of the shortfall.

Smith also interviewed a former tax attorney for KPMG, who describes how the firm's accountants and attorneys were ordered by KPMG tax executives to design and aggressively market as many tax shelters as possible, since the firm made a profit based on how much it saved its clients in taxes. Last month, KPMG, which is one of several accounting firms under scrutiny by regulators for its role in promoting abusive tax shelters, shuffled the top leadership of its tax practice, resulting in the retirement of its deputy chairman and the shifting of duties of other executives.

-- WebCPA staff

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