U.S. Treasury Secretary says 'safe harbor' proposal is not an optional tax

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before Senate Finance Committee

RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday his "safe harbor" proposal for U.S. companies was not an optional tax and he hopes the OECD will agree on a global tax reform this year.

"Our proposal has been referred to as an optional tax. It’s not an optional tax... it's a safe harbor," Mnuchin told an economic conference in Saudi Arabia, which is hosting finance leaders of the world's 20 largest economies.

"People will pay a price for certainty. I think that’s something there's a lot of support for. I think this is hopefully something we can get done this year."

In December Mnuchin raised serious questions about OECD international tax reform proposals in a letter made public, jarring international officials by floating the idea of a safe harbor regime.

Tax experts say the safe harbor proposal could allow U.S. companies to opt-out of whatever gets agreed internationally.

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin and Andrea Shalal; Writing by Saeed Azhar, Editing by William Maclean)