Former Reps. Claudine Schneider (R-RI) and Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH) among over 70 Faith, Small Business, Law Enforcement, Local Leaders Pushing for Bi-Partisan Tax and Transparency Policies
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the recent exposé dubbed the “Panama Papers,” a bi-partisan grouping of more than 70 faith leaders, small business owners, local leaders, and public interest advocates from 25 states will be on Capitol Hill this week to urge lawmakers to support tax and transparency legislation that benefits small businesses, taxpayers, and vulnerable communities.
Advocating for legislation to make it harder to set up anonymous shell companies in the U.S. and to prevent offshore tax haven abuse, the event is organized by the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, a non-partisan coalition of over 100 small business, faith-based, anti-corruption, government watchdog, human rights, investor, labor, public-interest, and global development organizations.
“Whether you’re a terrorist, a drug lord, or a corrupt foreign dictator, anonymous companies are one of the primary tools for laundering dirty money to escape the eyes of law enforcement, yet the U.S. is the second easiest place on Earth for a criminal to set up an anonymous shell company that can be used to launder money,” said Gary Kalman, Executive Director of the FACT Coalition. “At the same time, tax haven abuse costs American taxpayers $150 billion per year in lost revenue. It is time for Congress to own up to these problems and take action to protect the nation’s tax base while also defending U.S. citizens from terrorists, drug cartels, and arms dealers.”
These issues are front-and-center after the massive “Panama Papers” leaks—a trove of more than 11 million documents from a Panamanian law firm obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The investigation exposed the devastating toll that anonymous companies and offshore tax havens take on the world, highlighting the need for U.S. action.
The delegation participating in FACT’s Bi-Partisan Tax and Transparency Fly-In Days includes former Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-RI) and former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH) along with several ministers, rabbis, small business owners, law enforcement officials, and local leaders.
“The American people are tired of a system where the wealthy and powerful have one set of rules and everyone else must abide by another” said former Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-RI). “We can pull illicit activities that are currently hidden behind shell companies out of the darkness and end tax haven abuse with basic sunshine rules that conservatives and liberals will support.”
“If there is one thing everyone can agree on it’s that our tax system is truly broken,” said former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH). “With hundreds of billions of dollars stashed away in tax havens, and shell companies ripping off the American people and facilitating corruption in the poorest places on earth, something has got to give. Congress should heed the calls of our moral leaders and the warnings of law enforcement and pass common sense fixes to crack down on secret shell companies and tax haven abuse.”
Nathan R. Catura, the National President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), added: “For too long, our government has allowed tax loopholes to grow—depriving the American people and our Federal law enforcement officers the financial and practical tools to combat this form of money laundering—via offshore tax shelters. Anonymous shell companies have long been exploited by terrorist and other nefarious organizations and individuals. FLEOA feels the time has come for those that have used these loopholes to be brought to justice and give back to the American people all that they have hidden and taken”
Attendees will meet with their Senators and Representatives about the importance of the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act (H.R.4450, S. 2489) and the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (H.R. 297, S. 174)—two pieces of legislation that would crack down on the abuses exposed in the Panama Papers stories.
Attendees will also attend a workshop and reception featuring speeches by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), former Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-RI), and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), in addition to former Treasury Special Agent John Cassara, Tim Richardson of the Fraternal Order of Police, Rabbi Menachem Creditor, and small business owner Crystal Mario.
Notes to Editors:
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Deputy Director, FACT Coalition