Obama calls on Sen. Paul to drop objections to tax treaties

DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday called on Sen. Rand Paul to drop his “quirky” objections to pending international tax treaties so they can move forward in Congress.

Obama said the treaties will help U.S. authorities investigate and crack down on offshore tax evasion.

Paul has argued that they would infringe on Americans’ constitutional right to privacy because their tax data and personal financial information would be shared with other countries. Treaties cannot go into force unless ratified by the Senate, and the objection of any one senator halts action on legislative business pending in that house of Congress, as Paul has done in this case.

“I’m calling on the Senate, in particular Sen. Rand Paul, who’s been a little quirky on this issue, to stop blocking the implementation of tax treaties that have been pending for years,” Obama said at the White House, while promoting new financial rules to force companies to disclose more information about their owners.

“These treaties actually improve law enforcement’s ability to investigate and crack down on offshore tax evasion. And I’m assuming that’s not something that he’s in favor of,” Obama said.

In a response via Twitter, Paul wrote: “Privacy and 4th Amendment rights are not ‘quirky.'”

Amendments to existing treaties with Luxembourg and Switzerland have been pending in the Senate since Obama’s first term.

In a November 2015 letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Paul said he doesn’t condone tax cheats but can’t support a law that endangers legal foreign investment and “punishes every American in pursuit of a few tax cheats.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved eight tax treaties last November.

“An individual’s bank account is the epitome of who they are as a private citizen,” Paul wrote McConnell, a fellow Kentucky Republican, adding that the account can reveal where someone shops, where they eat, what medicines they take, who their doctors are and where they travel. “Bulk collection tax treaties are not a policy prescription to U.S. citizens conducting illicit financial transactions in a foreign country.”