Democrats scrap bank reporting requirement from U.S. spending package

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. banks will not be required to report additional information about certain accounts to the Internal Revenue Service after Democrats removed the proposal from a sweeping government spending package.

The exclusion of the provision, originally sought by some Democratic lawmakers as a way to identify people underreporting income on their taxes, marks a major victory for banks and credit unions that had vigorously opposed the provision.

U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled the framework for a $1.75 trillion economic and climate change plan on Thursday, his latest attempt to unify Democrats in Congress behind a comprehensive bill pursuing many of his top policy priorities.

Earlier versions of the package, which reached as high as $3 trillion in new investments, also included language requiring banks to report to the IRS any bank accounts that had $600 in money in or out every year. That proposal was not included in the framework outlined by the White House on Thursday.

Proponents, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, argued that the information would make it easier for tax collectors to identify accounts that experienced significantly higher activity than reported on taxes, and also raise large amounts of revenue to help pay for the new spending proposals.

The banking industry, calling the provision onerous and intrusive, launched an all-out lobbying battle against it. Democrats attempted to temper the provision by raising the reporting threshold to $10,000, but intense industry opposition, alongside concerns from moderate Democrats, helped push it out of the revamped package.

“The last thing Americans want right now is the government snooping on their accounts,” said Jim Nussle, head of the Credit Union National Association. “Safeguarding consumer privacy and data security is a key part of promoting financial well-being for all, and it’s encouraging that Congress recognizes this credit union priority.”

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Will Dunham)

Russian spies hack U.S. Democratic Party computers

A woman is silhouetted during the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

“The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system they also were able to read all e-mail and chat traffic,” the paper said, citing committee officials and security experts.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, confirmed the breach.

“When we discovered the intrusion, we treated this like the serious incident it is …,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “Our team moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network.”

The Post quoted U.S. officials as saying Russian spies also targeted the networks of Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as well as computers of some Republican political action committees.

It said some of the hackers had access to the Democratic National Committee network for about a year “but all were expelled over the past weekend in a major computer clean-up campaign.”

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by James Dalgleish)