Treasury will soon move to increase transparency of shell companies. The department is finalizing a proposal to bar people or firms from using shell companies to engage in financial crimes, like money laundering or tax evasion. Top Senate Finance Committee Democrat Ron Wyden had asked Treasury to act in February, even before the Panama Papers leak exposed how a Panamanian law firm set up such offshore firms.
The world’s top tax officials will dive into the Panama Papers. The group will meet in Paris this week to try to determine how to better curb tax avoidance through shell companies. The group will meet under the auspices of the Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration Network.
The Panama Papers aren’t just about wealthy tax evaders. The Washington Post explains how “so much of the money moved through tax havens would otherwise be taxed by some of the world's poorest, most revenue-hungry governments… Without tax revenue, less savory options present themselves -- think foreign aid with strings attached, or resource extraction at the expense of people and the environment.”
But because of those papers, UK’s Prime Minister released his tax returns. David Cameron released his tax returns yesterday in an effort to quell concerns about his personal wealth. The PM’s late father held assets in an offshore fund through Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Cameron’s tax returns describe how after his father’s death, his mother gave him a £200,000 gift that could potentially avoid inheritance tax.
Scotland’s leaders released theirs, too. Scottish Labour's Kezia Dugdale released her tax returns on Saturday. Tory Ruth Davidson followed suit. The next day, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Willie Rennie of the Liberal Democrats published their documents.
Back in the US: You don’t have to win the presidency to have a tax policy legacy. TPC’s Howard Gleckman examines how far-reaching tax policy ideas can outlive their proponents’ candidacies. “Long after their races are distant memories, ideas that opponents mock in the heat of an election season go mainstream. And some even become law.”
Get to know your 2015 tax forms. Check out TPC’s new interactive tool here and learn about the forms 1040 and Schedule A, which is used to tally deductions. You can find out what each line means, how many people fill it out, and how it affects revenues and the distribution of tax burdens across income categories. TPC added a new feature this year that describes various aspects of filing, such as who counts as a dependent, what is included in reported income, or in various deductions and credits, and how taxes affect education, retirement, and health expenses.
Tomorrow on the Hill. The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on cybersecurity and taxpayer information. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, IRS Chief Technology Officer Terence Millholland, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George, Deputy Inspector General for Audit Michael McKenney, Comptroller General of the United States Gene Dodaro, and Director of Information Security Issues at the US Government Accountability Office Gregory Wilshusen will testify.
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