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Underground Economy

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BUSINESS
May 27, 1987 | HARRY BERNSTEIN
Benjamin Franklin was almost correct when he wrote 199 years ago: "Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." The Constitution has lasted 200 years. Death is still inevitable. But Franklin was wrong about taxes. They are far from certain. The amount of fraud and deception used to successfully escape them was, and still is, enormous.
ARTICLES BY DATE
WORLD
August 19, 2012 | By Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times
MEXICO CITY - First there were four of them, lined up against the subway platform wall. Then five, then six, then 11 - all of them blind, all with retractable canes, all with bulging backpacks strapped to their torsos. Socorro Jimenez was among them, waiting her turn. The unwritten rule is one per train. Soon, hers came. This is how it always works on mornings such as this one: Few of the strap-hanging housekeepers or half-asleep students or impassive office workers will pay much mind to the 55-year-old, or her cane, or her nondescript black backpack.
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BUSINESS
December 9, 2011 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
  A burgeoning underground economy is costing California about $7 billion annually in lost tax revenue and undercutting companies that play by the rules. That has state officials vowing to crack down on employers who pay their workers cash under the table to avoid payroll taxes, workers' compensation insurance and other government mandates. Agencies including the Employment Development Department and the Contractors State Licensing Board increasingly are coordinating efforts to target suspected scofflaws.
BUSINESS
July 9, 2012 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO -- A surprise sweep for unlicensed building contractors has resulted in 104 enforcement actions by a multi-agency state task force. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced Monday that the sweep hit off-the-books operators in 11 counties on June 20 and 21. Investigators carried out the enforcement actions in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties as well as in Alameda, Butte, El Dorado, Kern, Monterey,...
NEWS
February 13, 1993 | JUBE SHIVER JR. and STUART SILVERSTEIN, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
As the Clinton Administration discovered in its tortuous search for an attorney general, the nation's underground economy--including the work of everyone from drug traffickers to illegal immigrant baby-sitters--touches nearly every corner of American life. Despite crackdowns by tax collectors and shifts in the economy that have slowed its growth in recent years, the underground economy is estimated to account for as much as $600 billion annually, or roughly 10% of the nation's business activity.
BUSINESS
February 16, 1988 | Associated Press
No one knows how large the underground economy is, but it functions in countries throughout the world at considerable direct and indirect costs, according to a new study. "Under the table and off the books, millions of persons worldwide are engaged in jobs that evade the relevant tax and labor laws--frequently with an official scowl but a tacit wink from their governments," says the report released Monday by Johns Hopkins University.
NEWS
February 9, 1987 | MARK ARAX, Times Staff Writer
When a Southeast Asian refugee on welfare chooses to work in the underground economy, it is often for reasons beyond simple greed. Resettlement workers and county officials say the formation of a vast underground economy must be viewed in the context of three decades of war in Vietnam and a United States that has embraced a million refugees from Southeast Asia without providing the proper training and assistance for self-sufficiency.
NEWS
January 3, 1988 | JOHN--THOR DAHLBURG, Associated Press
The tip a Moscow waiter illegally scoops off the table is symbolic of an underground economy in this Communist country, where money is more often paid to get quality service than to reward it. For years, Soviets have doled out money or merchandise to grease palms, win favor or merely get an appointment with a good doctor. Under Communist Party Chief Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the custom has come under fierce attack, but it still appears rife.
NEWS
February 2, 1993 | BRUCE EINHORN, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Hsu Ke-wei doesn't look like much of a threat to society. A slim 25-year-old wearing a rust sweater and matching pants, Hsu is a soft-spoken college graduate, only three months out of the army. Yet today, like every day, he is breaking the law, illegally selling skirts and jackets from a downtown Taipei sidewalk.
NEWS
February 9, 1987 | MARK ARAX, Times Staff Writer
Thousands of Southeast Asian refugees throughout California are collecting welfare benefits while illegally earning thousands of dollars a year in a vast underground economy, an investigation by The Times has found.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 16, 2012 | By Christopher Goffard, Esmeralda Bermudez and Melissa Leu, Los Angeles Times
For Julio Salgado and many others, the limbo of being an illegal immigrant - the fear of deportation, the hiding in plain sight, the uncertainties of the underground economy - appeared to vanish abruptly Friday. "We can exist now in the eyes of the country," said Salgado, 28, a Berkeley artist who got a degree from Cal State Long Beach two years ago but said his status as an undocumented immigrant has forced him to scrape together off-the-books jobs as an illustrator and fast-food worker.
BUSINESS
December 9, 2011 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
  A burgeoning underground economy is costing California about $7 billion annually in lost tax revenue and undercutting companies that play by the rules. That has state officials vowing to crack down on employers who pay their workers cash under the table to avoid payroll taxes, workers' compensation insurance and other government mandates. Agencies including the Employment Development Department and the Contractors State Licensing Board increasingly are coordinating efforts to target suspected scofflaws.
WORLD
January 10, 2009 | Peter Spiegel and Jeffrey Fleishman
Some of them are said to be big enough to accommodate railroad cars. They may reach a depth of 60 feet, and are reported to be equipped with cables and electric motors that move food, fuel -- and probably some of the heaviest rockets that Hamas aims at Israel. They also are one of the main reasons fighting is continuing in the Gaza Strip.
OPINION
April 18, 2008
Re "Bottom-line questions," editorial, April 15 You could tell it was April 15, tax day, because The Times dusted off its worn-out tirade against Proposition 13. Yet I find myself agreeing with the paper's plea to launch a broad discussion of tax issues. Who pays too little? Easy answer: Those who make their livelihood in the underground economy. If your search for revenue solutions is comprehensive enough to identify those not paying their fair share but also placing out-of-proportion demands on state services, then bring it on. And if we are truly $8 billion in the hole, and we share it equally between 37 million residents, I will gladly pay my $216 share as long as you find a way to capture the same amount from the tax absconders whose social welfare costs greatly exceed the revenue shortfall.
OPINION
June 4, 2007
Re "Screen may snag too many workers," May 29 The media seem more concerned with privacy than the average citizen. When traveling the world, one has to put a passport on the counter to board an airplane, check into a hotel, rent a car or do banking. Credit reporting companies have access to banking and purchasing records covering decades. I hear no complaints about any of the foregoing. Indeed, the greatest concern that I hear expressed is about identity theft. The proposed legislation regarding immigration reform requires an employment eligibility verification system.
OPINION
March 5, 2006 | D.J. Waldie, D.J. WALDIE is the author, most recently, of "Where We Are Now: Notes from Los Angeles."
In two pairs, the officers pass through the swaying rail car, crisply uniformed and armed, taking up positions that surveil the exits. The passengers, at least those who notice, shift a little in their seats, pat pockets or rummage in a purse or backpack. It's reminiscent of the moment in a hundred black-and-white movies when the refugee carrying the forged letters of transit, or the agent with the microfilm sown into the lining of his coat, faces the blank mask of authority.
BUSINESS
May 3, 1985 | From Reuters
Spain's unemployment rate of 20% is Europe's highest, but the Socialist government says a thriving underground economy and tight-knit family structures have removed the sting from a potentially explosive situation. "The statistics are correct; we have 20% registered unemployed," Labor Ministry Secretary General Alvaro Espina said in an interview. "But this is a far cry from saying 2.6 million employable Spaniards are lacking a source of income."
BUSINESS
May 6, 2002 | NANCY CLEELAND, TIMES STAFF WRITER
While most of the Los Angeles economy has stagnated since the last recession, one segment is booming, a new analysis contends. The problem is, it's all underground. Cash-pay, off-the-books work is thriving in the region, fed by new business practices, illegal immigration and lax labor law enforcement, according to the Economic Roundtable, a Los Angeles research group.
OPINION
December 14, 2005
LIKE THE CITY ITSELF, THE economy of Los Angeles is marked by informality. And it's getting more casual. The number of recorded workers in legitimate businesses in Los Angeles is lower now than in 1990. More people are working, but not in the formal economy. That statistic comes from Dan Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable, which was the partner of the Milken Institute in a recently completed project that studied the L.A. economy.
BUSINESS
May 9, 2005 | Marla Dickerson, Times Staff Writer
When authorities decided to clean up this town, they didn't take any chances. Police swooped in just before midnight, armed with riot gear and backhoes. The invaders were repelled, the streets reduced to rubble. A sneak attack to eradicate drug dealers? Gang members? Armed insurgents? No, municipal leaders were uprooting sidewalk vendors, mostly women and senior citizens, whose makeshift taco stands and clothing stalls were clogging the city center.
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