Don’t Let Foreign Governments Have Our Tax Information

Some senators think they have found a way to get around the problem of international hackers stealing the tax information of American citizens. Unfortunately, that plan is to have the United States simply turn over that information whenever a country that has signed up to international treaties on taxes requests it. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has put a hold on the plan, with the intention to protect the Constitution, American taxpayers, businesses, and the nation’s economic health by blocking these dubious treaties. Far from benign agreements, these tax accords are significant threats to the United States. One in particular, the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance, is particularly troublesome.

Last November the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance, along with tax treaties, with seven countries. The United States government signed the convention on May 27, 2010, but it cannot come into force unless it is approved by the Senate. Sen. Paul’s courageous hold on the treaties has prevented them from being approved by the chamber thus far. These treaties, and the convention in particular, would require the United States, “to share with foreign governments the financial information of foreign individuals and businesses with accounts in the U.S. Additionally, foreign governments would be required to share with the U.S. the financial information of Americans’ and U.S.-based businesses with accounts overseas.”

The United States is a magnet for foreign investment, but the convention could threaten this status. If the convention is approved, repressive states like Russia and China could use it to get information about political opponents who have investments or accounts in the United States and use this information to cause them or their families financial harm. In the process, information about American banking, businesses, and investors could be divulged, resulting in possible violations of the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” It will have been the United States government, which is charged with safeguarding Fourth Amendment rights, facilitating its degradation.