US President Barack Obama has said tax avoidance is a “big global problem”, in his first comments on the Panama Papers controversy.
As Iceland’s Prime Minister stepped down over the offshore funding scandal, Mr Obama made a rare appearance in the White House briefing room to say the wealthiest are gaming the tax system.
He spoke a day after the US Treasury Department unveiled new rules to close corporate inversions, by which companies move overseas to avoid taxes.
Mr Obama called the practice “one of the most insidious tax loopholes out there”.
He said the uproar over the publication of thousands of names of rich and powerful people who conducted offshore financial dealings through a Panamanian law firm was “not unique to other countries”.
“There are folks here in America who are taking advantage of the same stuff,” he added.
Mr Obama said corporate tax loopholes make it harder to spend money to keep the economy strong.
He said they also hurt working families because the lost revenue “has to be made up somewhere”.
“A lot of these loopholes come at the expense of middle-class families,” Mr Obama said.
He added that such a practice “sticks the rest of us with the tab”.
The US President, a Democrat, called on the Republican-controlled Congress to close the loophole for good.
The Treasury Department’s action has thrown a series of proposed mergers into question, including Pfizer’s $160bn deal to buy Dublin-based Botox-maker Allergan.