The Great Debate UK
By Lynnley Browning
(Lynnley Browning is a guest columnist. The views expressed are her own. She is a frequent contributor to the business pages of The New York Times and is a former Moscow-based correspondent for Reuters, where she covered energy and commodities.)
Some have argued that the victims of Bernie Madoff's enormous fraud should simply take their lumps for having trusted their money to the greatest con artist in history.
The victims, not surprisingly, disagree. More important, many of them are organizing in a way that could change the way investors are treated in the future. As the Obama administration pushes to add greater protections and even a new agency for investors, the Madoff victims stand to make an impact that goes beyond simply being objects of pity.
Two groups of Madoff investors, the Madoff Survivors Group and www.madoff-help.com, are trying to persuade Congress to overhaul the rules that limit the ability of investors to try to recoup their losses.
The Madoff groups want the Internal Revenue Service to extend the time that investors can reclaim taxes paid on fictitious Madoff earnings beyond the current limit of five years. They are also backing legislation in Congress that would create tax breaks for phantom profits and extend carry-back losses to 10 years.