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Can a Holocaust Mentality Excuse Tax Evasion?

A Florida man attempts to find out

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We know that even having learned about the Holocaust as a kid can alter one’s conception of reality, a factor compounded all the more for children of survivors. What we didn’t know is that such lingering trauma might help you get off for tax evasion. Jack Barouh, 65, the former proprietor of a watch company, is due to be sentenced today in Miami federal court for failing to report offshore bank accounts and the income he received from his UBS accounts. His lawyer, citing a memorandum from a doctor, is pleading for Barouh, whose parents escaped the Holocaust in Europe and raised him in Colombia, where they also experienced harassment and discrimination, to be sentenced to home detention rather than jail. His excuse? Barouh was “motivated by fears of possible persecution and sudden loss and by a ‘hide and hoard’ behavior adopted by Holocaust survivors and their children.” The memorandum asserts that “These beliefs cause a person to compulsively and almost obsessively, want to establish a secret nest egg.”

Actually, we completely buy that. Even in a lower-stakes report to the government, the census, the Holocaust looms large for some survivors’ kids. The Nation reports that one such woman who considers being Jewish a racial identity couldn’t bring herself to write it in on the census: “she acknowledged a deep ambivalence about putting that on any official form. She’s the child of Holocaust survivors, and although she said she doesn’t distrust the US government or think that this form—used to patrol against discrimination—bears any resemblance to a yellow star, she admitted that she remains hesitant and torn.”

UBS Tax Evader Cites Holocaust “Survival Behavior” [Reuters]
Not-Black by Default [The Nation]

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Larry Gold says:

I’m afraid that Mr.Barouh having been caught as a tax evader now has compounded his misdeeds by using the Holocaust (not the devil but the Holocaust made me do it) as his keep out of jail card. Lets see:his family survives the Holocaust, moves to Columbia where they are, according to Mr. Barouh victims of “harassment and discrimination” and then comes to the US where Mr. Barouh suffers the trauma of being the owner of a watch company. Now to add
to this trauma the US government levies taxes on this put
upon gentleman. As the son of a garment worker who arrived
in the US in 1911 from Russia to escape the pograms of his day and lived without fear in the US I can only sympathize with Mr. Barouh. Unfortunately my father paid his taxes, whatever the trauma that caused him. If only he had the chutzpah that Mr. Barouh has, he too might have had offshore accounts, crafty lawyers and a doctor willing to give him a psychological pass. But no, he was just a very thankful taxpaying citizen who owed his country more than
the tax evasion Mr. Barouh specializes in.

Patricia Friedberg says:

And I understand it, too. A number of years ago I attended, a concert with a friend at the Mann Auditorium in Israel. We came to our seats and found there was one person sitting between us. I asked politely whether she would mind moving over to allow us to sit together. “No,” was her emphatic reply. A moment later she dropped her program and as she picked it up I saw a tattoo number on her arm. She was obviously a survivor of the holocaust – this was her seat – this was her possession – I needed no other explanation. When you have nothing and finally have something, you hang on to it for fear even that might be taken away.

David says:

I say, get over it…and I’m Jewish.

Alexander Diamond says:

The Holocaust may or may not excuse tax evasion. Nothing excuses the smugness of the remark “get over it…”.


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Can a Holocaust Mentality Excuse Tax Evasion?

A Florida man attempts to find out

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