WASHINGTON – In the Bermuda Government’s fourth annual bilateral talks visit to Washington, D.C., Members of Congress are more engaged than any previous year and asking more detail-oriented questions about Bermuda’s reinsurance industry.
Washington insiders believe proposed tax legislation, potentially harmful to the global reinsurance industry, could be released soon. Reinsurance is the largest sector of Bermuda’s economy.
“Our timing is critical,” said Bermuda’s Premier Dr. Ewart Brown who is leading the delegation in Washington. “It is abundantly clear that Members know these issues are coming down the pike and they want to be ready. They want to know what is in the best interest of their constituents and they are asking us to educate them. They want hard data so they can make informed votes should the time come.”
The Bermuda Delegation is showing Members that a discriminatory tax proposal would drive up prices for American consumers. A recently completed economic analysis by the Brattle Group noted the impact of proposed legislation will increase U.S. consumers’ insurance bills by $10 to $12 billion annually.
Premier Ewart Brown, Finance Minister Paula Cox and Congressman Kendrick Meek of Florida.
It was a particularly powerful message for Congressman Kendrick Meek who represents the hurricane-prone state of Florida. Affordable homeowner insurance is a major issue in his state where consumer costs could go up $500 million.
Minister of Finance Paula Cox said: “The key issue that resonated for Members was the impact of proposed changes because it could drive up the cost of insurance to American consumers. It is important that we continue to tell the Bermuda story on Capitol Hill; Members of Congress valued our input.”
Finance Minister Paula Cox and Premier Ewart Brown with Chairman Charles Rangel of New York
On Tuesday the Bermuda Delegation met with five Members of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee: Rep. Kendrick Meek, Rep. Danny Davis, Rep. Mike Thompson, Rep. Joe Crowley and Chairman Rep. Charles Rangel.
Chairman Rangel reaffirmed his belief that it is unfair to label Bermuda as a tax haven. Bermuda has had a tax information exchange agreement with the United States for more than 20 years.
The delegation also met Tuesday with Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Chairman Eliot Engel of New York and Democratic Caucus Deputy Whip Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina.
Congressman Mike Thompson with Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and Finance Minister Paula Cox