Caribbean Leaders are in Port of Spain, Trinidad for the 5th Summit of the Americas.

They took the opportunity today to meet with members of the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee and a Congressional delegation – led by Mr. Charles Rangle, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and Mr. Eliot Engle, Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee – on the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act introduced in the US Congress.

Carl Levin (D-MI) introduced the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (STHAA)on March 2, 2009. The following day, over 40 Representatives, led by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives. The Bill is intended to prevent US taxpayers from holding assets in accounts of financial institutions located in so-called tax havens without disclosing the existence of those accounts to the Internal Revenue Service. Provisions also address perceived abuses of offshore tax planning.

Calling the stop taxation initiative “misguided” insofar as The Bahamas is concerned, Prime Minister Ingraham explained: *“We have cooperated with the United States fully, we have a tax information exchange agreement with them, and the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would all certify that all requests made in The Bahamas have been responded to appropriately.”*

Bahamas Prime Minister Ingraham reaffirmed that there is no justification for the United States to name The Bahamas in a stop taxation bill. Speaking to the media, the Prime Minister said, *”There is no justification for the Americans to put The Bahamas in a stop tax haven abuse Bill – the facts do not square with that. We expect therefore that at the end of the day our name will not appear in any such legislation.”*

Prime Minister Ingraham also reported that he had written to Congressman Rangel previously on The Bahamas’ position, and had also written on behalf of CARICOM at the Community’s request. *“I think he gave us sufficient assurances about the Bill to cause most of our members to be comfortable,” Mr. Ingraham advised. “There will be some additional discussions with the Congress.”*

When introducing the STHAA in March, Sen. Levin noted that it was an improved version of the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act that he had introduced in February 2007, with Senator Coleman and then Senator Obama, and that Congressmen Lloyd Doggett and Rahm Emanuel introduced in the House with the support of 47 cosponsors. No action was taken during the last Congress on either bill.