Senate to take up tax treaties blocked by Paul

The Senate will take another stab at passing a slew of international tax treaties that had been blocked by Sen. Ran Paul (R-Ky.) when Congress returns from recess next week.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on treaties with Switzerland, Luxemburg and Hungary that Paul blocked in the last Congress because of concerns over government snooping.

The panel will also examine a treaty with Chile and another international agreement on mutual assistance on tax matters.

Proponents argue the treaties will help the U.S. battle tax evasion by reining in the use of offshore bank accounts to hide assets from the IRS.

But Paul had raised concern when the treaties first came up two years ago that they would help the government snoop on Americans' finances without any evidence of wrongdoing, a concern that's unlikely to have died down following the slew of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden over the past year.

“The tax treaty hearing will cover the five pending tax treaties and is the first step in moving the treaties through the Senate approval process,” said Catherine Schultz, vice president for tax policy at the National Foreign Trade Council, a group whose president will testify in favor of the treaties during Wednesday's hearing. “We are hopeful that these treaties, which alleviate double taxation on companies and provide for a more efficient dispute resolution will be approved by the entire Senate without delay.”

Paul's office did not respond to a request for comment. 

The Foreign Relations panel approved the three pacts in July 2011, but the full Senate didn't move forward because of Paul's objections. The committee must bring them up again now in order to schedule a floor vote in this Congress.

“The treaties had to be returned to the committee at the end of the last Congress when they hadn't been acted on,” Schultz said. “We are hopeful that all members of the committee will support the treaties, including Sen. Paul.”

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