Report:US should hunt down tax abusers via treaties

| 09/10/2011

(Reuters): The Internal Revenue Service must make better use of its network of global tax treaties to share data with countries and hunt down tax abusers, said a report from congressional investigators on Friday. The United States has tax treaties and information-sharing agreements with 90 foreign jurisdictions, but limited exchange laws with some of the world's most secretive tax havens in the Caribbean and Europe. As U.S. authorities prosecute offshore tax shelters, notably with investigations into Swiss banks protecting U.S. clients, the IRS must aggressively collect and analyze the data to which it has legal access, according to the report, from the Government Accountability Office.

The IRS should send out more requests for information to treaty partners, the report said.

From 2006 to 2010, foreign countries sent the IRS nearly four times as many requests for taxpayer data as the IRS requested from them. Further, there is a significant lag time for data request responses, often six months or longer.

The IRS "needs to rev up its requests or revamp our tax treaty network to get more taxpayer information and make more headway against rampant offshore tax abuse that disadvantages honest taxpayers," said Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, in a statement coinciding with the release of the report.

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