It's just a few short hours before I get on a plane for Japan to go apartment-hunting but I simply had to share this with because it is too damn funny and I think we all need a good laugh right now.
The Flophouse has been FATCAed.
Last week we received a snail mail from the French bank where our little Franco-American family has been banking for years - the one where we deposit our paychecks, pay our rent and utilities and all that jazz. The envelope was packed full with a fancy glossy note in French explaining what it was all about and two nearly incomprehensible forms in American English. (I tried to do my duty as a translator because there was much about them that my French spouse found puzzling but there were sections that even I, the only native speaker in the household, couldn't figure out.)
Now this part wasn't particularly funny. On the contrary my spouse and I were definitely unamused by the note that said that if the forms weren't returned then the bank could send the information to the US IRS anyway (which made me wonder why we were doing this dance at all). I also noted that there was no privacy waiver to be found in this pile of paperasses and I'd be very interested in knowing if that is in fact consistent with EU law.
My French spouse was appalled to read some of the search criteria they used for putting an account under suspicion: US address attached to the account, US person attached to the account, and wire transfers from France to the US. (Good thing we didn't send our daughters to university in the US, right? And I guess if my relatives in the US ever need money from us, it's not going to happen.)
But, hey, none if it was a huge surprise either. We've been expecting some sort of paperwork ever since the French parliament passed the law implementing FATCA. In fact, I felt a sort of vindication because I've been talking about FATCA and what it meant for our family for years now and had the sense that I wasn't being taken seriously. "It will never happen" and "France wouldn't do such a thing to French citizens and residents living in France" and so on and so forth. Well, sweetheart, you may be a Frenchman living in France but your American wife called it and she was right. A feeling that I savored for about two seconds and then let go because, yes, I'm an old women a trying to get into heaven now and being that petty and small sure won't get me there.
No, the funny part was not what happened but to whom. Who in our little Franco-American household gets first prize in the Smack the Gopher FATCA Sweepstakes?
My 19 year old daughter - the younger Frenchling.
Yep, you heard me. A kid who is in college, does not work, and has almost no money. In fact, she has, to the best of my knowledge, a little local checking and savings account here in France which, if they exceed 500 Euros combined, I would be amazed.
And I'm sorry, folks, but this is pretty damn funny. Congratulations, America, on the outing of my daughter, a French citizen with accounts in France who, even if you did find some way to tax her and you asked for say 10% of her "ill-gotten hidden assets" abroad, might net you a grand total of 50 USD.
And if you think that you will somehow manage to balance the US budget on that kind of take? Well, I guess magical thinking abounds these days.
Allow me to propose a new motto for the US government:
"Winning the War on Tax Evasion, One College Student at a Time."
Bon weekend, everyone.