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New Legislation Would Combat Tax Haven Abuse, Increase Transparency, Accountability

As observes Global Financial Integrity, The introduction last Monday of The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, which would “restrict the use of offshore tax havens and abusive tax shelters to inappropriately avoid Federal taxation” by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) represents a crucial step towards improving U.S. tax assessment and collection and strengthening the global financial system.
The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act is similar to a previous bill, S. 681, introduced by Senator Levin in 2007 and cosponsored by then-Senator Barack Obama with 3 significant new additions that would:
(1) treat foreign corporations managed and controlled in the United States as domestic corporations for income tax purposes;
(2) close an offshore tax dividend loophole that enables offshore hedge funds and others to dodge payment of U.S. taxes on U.S. stock dividends; and
(3) expand the tax return reporting requirements for passive foreign investment corporations (PFICs) to include U.S. persons who don’t own a PFIC, but have formed, sent assets to, received assets from, or benefitted from a PFIC.

The jurisdictions that are considered as tax havens are :
Antigua and Barbuda
British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands
Cook Islands
Costa Rica
Hong Kong
Isle of Man
Netherlands Antilles
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Lucia
St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Turks and Caicos

Delaware is missing.

The bill:

• Establish presumptions for entities and transactions in Offshore Secrecy Jurisdictions.
• Determine “Offshore Secrecy Jurisdictions.”
• Authorize special measures against foreign jurisdictions, financial institutions, and others that impede U.S. tax enforcement.
• Treat foreign corporations managed and controlled in the United States as domestic corporations for income tax purposes;
• Allow more time for investigations involving Offshore Secrecy Jurisdictions;
• Increase disclosure of offshore accounts, transactions, and entities;
• Prevent misuse of foreign trusts for tax evasion;
• Limit legal opinion protection from penalties with respect to transactions involving Offshore Secrecy Jurisdictions;
• Close the offshore dividend tax loophole;
• Increase penalty for failing to disclose offshore holdings;
• Require anti-money laundering rule for hedge funds;
• Apply anti-money laundering obligations to company formation agents;
• Strengthen John Doe summons use in offshore tax cases;
• Strengthen foreign financial account reporting requirements;
• Strengthen tax shelter penalties;
• Deter financial institution participation in abusive tax shelter activities;
• Strengthen law enforcement through information sharing;
• Require tougher tax shelter opinion standards for tax practitioners

“This is a pivotal time in global finance,” said Baker. “From the European Commission’s recent adoption of measures to improve cooperation between EU member states and increase transparency in tax assessment and collection to the G-20’s stated intent to crack down on tax havens when they meet in April, calls around the world are growing for definitive action on the problem of tax havens. This bill will ensure parity in U.S. tax remittance while strengthening overall global finance by increasing transparency and accountability.”

Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act : Summary

Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (full text)

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