US Aims to Curb Tax Evasion in Aftermath of Panama Papers

U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed new regulations that would require U.S. companies to disclose more information about their owners.

The administration announced the regulations Thursday in response to the leak of the "Panama Papers," millions of documents detailing international tax evasion through secret offshore accounts.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Friday, Obama said the proposals “would make sure families and small businesses who don’t have fancy lawyers and fancy accountants are being treated the same as big corporations who do.”

The regulations would require companies to disclose their owners to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and allow law enforcement agencies to access that information. A second rule would close a loophole allowing a narrow class of foreign-owned companies to avoid reporting to the IRS.

Obama said the mission cannot be completed without the help of Congress, which he said should approve legislation that requires greater disclosure.

"Only Congress can fully close the loopholes that wealthy individuals and powerful corporations all too often take advantage of, often at the expense of middle-class families. If they're getting out of paying their fair share of taxes, that means the rest of us have to shoulder that burden. I've put forward plans repeatedly to do exactly that.”

The administration also wants the U.S. Senate to ratify eight tax treaties that have languished there.

The administration’s proposals come as the U.S. has emerged as a top haven for tax evaders, rivaling Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

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