Jeffrey Winters, author of the 2011 book Oligarchy.
Winters coined the term “wealth defense industry” to describe this veritable army that serves the super-rich, and in a recent article in the American Interest he explained that it “is comprised of lawyers, accountants, wealth management consultants, revolving-door lobbyists, think-tank debate framers and even key segments of the insurance industry whose sole purpose is income defense for America’s oligarchs. “
It’s “a multi-billion dollar industry per year, and it feeds completely on the need of wealthy people to defend their wealth,” Winters says in an interview.
The paramount goal is simple and specific: “To not pay taxes and to keep as much of their fortunes as they possibly can across generations.”
The means are extremely complicated and expensive, typically involving individually tailored, painstakingly crafted techniques — or “structured tax products”– based on arcane interpretations of the nation’s 70,000-page tax code.
Those schemes often involve moving money through offshore tax havens and anonymous shell corporations — generally with the goal of sheltering the money and creating paper losses that can be applied to the client’s tax bill.
“The wealth defense industry arose as part of the demand on the part of wealthy people, but it’s now taken on a life of its own and is proactive.”