U.S. Senate's Baucus targets offshore tax evaders

WASHINGTON, March 12 Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:41pm EDT

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WASHINGTON, March 12 (Reuters) - Another bill to crack down on offshore tax evasion is being developed in the U.S. Congress amid growing pressure from governments worldwide on banks such as Switzerland's UBS AG (UBSN.VX) (UBS.N) over tax issues.

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said on Thursday that he is seeking input from other lawmakers on a preliminary draft of a bill calling for higher levels of Internal Revenue Service oversight of offshore tax issues.

Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus said in a statement that his bill would also require that tax preparers ask more questions about foreign accounts, that certain reports be filed with tax returns, and that penalties for violations be raised.

In addition, the bill would "discourage businesses from moving offshore by closing a loophole that results in employers in offshore tax havens avoiding payment of Social Security taxes on workers," said a statement from Baucus's office.

Related legislation has already been introduced in the Senate by Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and by Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett in the House of Representatives. (Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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