Since their release last week, the Panama Papers have rocked virtually every government and politician’s world. With over 11.5 million documents stolen and leaked, media organizations have been scrounging to find stories on Americans; while mainstream media has relayed that foreign governments and leaders are involved, there has only been massing mention of American citizens who have hidden their funds offshore.
Curiously, at the peak of the scandal, the IRS headquarters endured a fire in the basement of their headquarters in Washington, D.C. This ultimately led to the closure of headquarters for over a week.
According to the Associated Press, “the agency said in a news release Tuesday that Monday afternoon’s fire affected the air handling system. No one was hurt in the fire…Officials say tax returns are not processed at headquarters; taxpayers should continue to file their returns.”
The coincidental timing is being deemed as too coincidental, according to some critics. Speculations of the fire being an inside job, created for the sole purpose of destroying records, have spread rapidly. This would indicate possible evidence that could be used to implicate specific individuals in the Panama Paper scandals would be nonexistent anymore.
Approximately 45 minutes before the fire engulfed the basement, the building was closed for the night and most workers were sent home. An IRS spokesman stated that the fire was “due to electrical issues with the air-conditioning system” and that of the roughly 2,000 people that work in the building, only “a few hundred” were still in the building when the fire broke out.
Local authorities and the IRS have failed to indicate whether the fire was an accident or act of arson; it is probable that the truth may never be revealed. It is unlikely that the fire, if arson, could be started by someone without authorized access to the area, as the IRS headquarters is one of the most secure in the country.
While there have been no reports of the IRS directly being implicated in the scandal, there has been mention of so-called “tax havens” that allow for cash to be stashed offshore. The massive amount of documents means it may be a significant amount of time before any American connections are made, but some speculate it is possible that the IRS has taken protective measures to safeguard secret information or hide involvement in the tax avoidance of some wealthy American citizens.
It may only be a matter of time before the IRS’ reputation goes up in flames, just like their headquarters.
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