Recently, reports have surfaced that drug dealers are abandoning the U.S. dollar in favour of a cleaner, more liquid medium of exchange. From The Daily:
Tide has become a form of currency on the streets. The retail price is steadily high — roughly $10 to $20 a bottle — and it’s a staple in households across socioeconomic classes. Tide can go for $5 to $10 a bottle on the black market, authorities say. Enterprising laundry soap peddlers even resell bottles to stores. “There’s no serial numbers and it’s impossible to track,” said Detective Larry Patterson of the Somerset, Ky., Police Department, where authorities have seen a huge spike in Tide theft. “It’s the item to steal.” …
The report goes on to note the uses of this nefarious new currency:
[L]aw enforcement officials across the country say Tide theft is connected to the drug trade. In fact, a recent drug sting turned up more Tide than cocaine … “They’ll do it right in front of a cop car — buying heroin or methamphetamine with Tide,” said Detective Rick Blake of the Gresham Police Department. “We would see people walking down the road with six, seven bottles of Tide. They were so blatant about it.”
Tide Detergent is known to be used in a number of tax havens in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. More worryingly, it may be used not just in the drugs trade, but for washing items of clothing — including clothing purchased with the proceeds of tax evasion.
Fortunately, Americans can rest assured that their government is not standing idly by in the face of this threat. In order to combat the scourge of garment-and-money laundering, Carl Levin and Charles Grassley have introduced the new bipartisan Foreign Washing Machine Compliance Act (FWMCA). All U.S. Persons who use more than 50,000 milligrams of laundry detergent, softener, or bleach per year in a Foreign Laundering Device (FLD) such as a washing machine, dryer, or combined washer-dryer will be required to file the new Form 9876, “Report of Certain Foreign Laundering Activities” with the IRS. The form requires taxpayers to list such essential information as the brand and serial number of the FLD, the number of wearable laundered items (WLIs), the date each WLI was purchased, its fair value in US dollars on the date of purchase, and the number of times it has been worn. Regulations will be issued to specify what types of WLIs must be included on the form. Furthermore, Foreign Laundromat Entities (FLEs) will be required to search their records in order to find all U.S. Persons who use their facilities.
“FWMCA will not only give our government the tools to fight illegal laundering, but will ensure that all Americans pay their fair share of sales tax on their purchases of detergent and foreign clothing”, stated Levin. GAO projections suggest that the new law will raise an even greater amount of money than December’s Kitty of Foreign Origin Report, which netted $4.4 billion from Americans who were concealing offshore felines. In response to misinformed complaints from non-resident non-aliens that the FWMCA would criminalise the ordinary wearing of clothes in foreign countries, Levin and Grassley pointed out that U.S. Persons in foreign countries had a significantly higher threshold of 200,000 milligrams of detergent per year. Grassley further noted that U.S. tax laws already provide significant subsidies to expatriates who do laundry in foreign countries, despite the complete lack of benefit such activities provide to the U.S. economy.
American commentators spoke out strongly in support of the law, but note that it does little to close the hand-washing and air-drying loopholes, which could enable tax evaders to keep their clothes clean without the knowledge of the IRS. Levin promised that his office would look into the problem and possibly introduce subsequent legislation to require reporting of other laundering paraphernalia such as basins, water, and clothes-hangers. An Isaac Brock Society spokesperson with a suspiciously unstained white shirt refused comment for this story.
LMFAO 😀 😀
I look for any excuse to avoid doing laundry. I should renounce it altogether, but then I would have to conspire with someone else to do it for me.
Now, that’s money laundering with a smile. Of course, the detergent, the washing machine and the laundry are all now Made In China, so they will all be subject to the penalties.
Ah, Eric… I’m with monalisa1776… I like the way your mind works
“Non-resident non-aliens”: nice one.
Here is a comment I got from P and am posting here.
I understand Sen. Levin was quoted as saying: “All Americans should wash their clothes in this country; it’s un-American to wash clothes in some other country.”
Sen. Grassley’s comment was: “Overseas Americans benefit from all of the R&D that went into Tide in America – they’re living under the cleaning protection of the US government. Besides, there are no reasons why Americans should live outside of the USA to promote exports; TIDE sells itself!”
A spokesperson for IBS had this comment: “Frankly, ALL overseas Americans would like to wash our hands of this entire pile of dirty laundry.
Believe it or not! This headline just came across Global Post…
A new spin on laundering charges — Minnesota man admits to stealing $25,000 in Tide detergent:
and here at Planet Money…
Maybe this is where Eric got the idea. If so great lampooning! If not, then what serendipity!
Brilliant – the problem is that with the coming inflation consumer goods will have more value than cash. I.e. buy your Tide today it will cost more tomorrow.
Therefore the IRS will require that on the FATCA form you identify your inventory of consumer goods at the end of the year. Yes, really. Also, the U.S. will require all consumer goods manufacturers to come with a serial number. Foreign consumer goods without a serial number will NOT be eligible for import into “Form Nation” – the country of Godliness, Cleanliness and Formliness.
Um, is this what Barrie McKenna means by “coming clean” to the IRS? Just asking.
@All, this is just TOO funny! 😛
I saw this today on the NYTs, and it made me remember this post…
It looks like we may need a Foreign Race Horse Compliance Act (FRHCA) too… or is it the domestic version we need called DRHCA. I don’t which, but we better create a form for that.
@JustMe: I’ll Have Another, the name of the horse which won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, is Canadian owned and his jockey was Canadian-trained, so it looks like they’ll be vulnerable under FRHCA.
There may also be a Foreign Seals Compliance Act in the works. Two Canadian harbour seals from a children’s park in London Ontario died en route to their new home in St. Louis last week. Another is in critical condition in Indianapolis. The fourth made it safely to St. Louis, but is in quarantine.
According to reports. the seals’ Deaths Are a Mystery.
The seals were healthy and all was well when the seals crossed the border. Nunavet and Atlantis died shortly after arriving in U.S, so perhaps they were frightened by being told they must pay taxes to the IRS on all the fish they had eaten during their many years at Canada’s Storybook Gardens.
Then, of course, there is the “Accidental Millionaire” from New Zealand. I’m sure you’re aware of it, but it was in Toronto Star today. There is no mention of a US connection, but I’m sure IRS is trying desperately to find one.