WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Thursday to adopt a measure aimed at cracking down on offshore tax havens.
The legislation would give the Treasury Department new tools to crack down on foreign governments and foreign financial institutions that it concludes are impeding U.S. tax enforcement.
For example, Treasury could use this new discretion to prohibit U.S. banks from accepting wire transfers or credit cards from those foreign banks, according to a summary released by the legislation's sponsors.
The Treasury Department already has this authority with regard to foreign governments and foreign financial institutions that it concludes may be abetting money laundering.
The Senate bill was adopted as an amendment to a transportation bill, which is still pending, but is expected to pass next week.
House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Thursday that he will introduce the Senate's version of the transportation bill, or something close to it, after House Republicans were unable to reach agreement on their own version.
The tax haven measure was sponsored by Democratic Sens. Carl Levin, Kent Conrad and Sheldon Whitehouse.
In a press release, they stated that the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that an earlier version of the legislation, which is similar to the version that was adopted Thursday, would reduce the deficit by $900 million over 10 years.
"I have fought against offshore tax havens for years, and I am glad the Senate has taken a strong step in the fight against foreign governments and offshore banks that help privileged individuals and corporations dodge taxes while the rest of Americans have to shoulder the extra tax burden," Levin said in the press release.
"Enactment of our amendment would help make our tax system more fair and would help reduce the deficit."