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Friday, July 27, 2012

Finding those Pesky U.S. Persons - a Training Video

This was just posted over at the Isaac Brock Society (hat tip to renouncecitizenship). It explains in very clear and easy to understand terms why FATCA (the Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act) passed by the U.S. Congress is a concern, not just for U.S. citizens and Green Card holders abroad, but for anyone with the most tenuous connection to the United States.  One of the examples demonstrates how a French person who is not a U.S. citizen or holder of a U.S. residency permit and does not do business or have assets in the U.S. could be designated a "person with U.S. status" anyway (unless she and her husband can prove a negative - that they have no connections to the U.S.) and could see her account information passed along to the U.S. government (or perhaps have her accounts simply closed by her bank).

This is why everyone should be concerned about this nasty piece of extra-territorial legislation.  And for those of you out there there who are still saying, "They can't do that!"  I hate to break it to you but they already have with the cooperation of the governments of France, Germany, the UK and others.  I strongly urge you to go over and read the full post on Isaac Brock where there are more videos, more information, and a lively discussion on  the topic by diasporans from all over the globe (Europe, Asia, South America).  Then, please tweet it, put it on Facebook, and pass it along to your contacts.   Unless, of course, you want to see the old headline, "We are All Americans Now" become a reality on January 1, 2013.


Tim said...

I wish I could give you better advice as to how to fight this in Europe. Basically your governments have completely caved. My sense is that in Canada you have more dual citizens and dual citizens INVOLVED with Canadian politics than in Europe. I don't think many US citizens in France or the UK have complained at all to their local politicians.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi Tim, Yep, it's looking pretty bleak here. Of the French folks I know, most are simply unaware that this is happening. Those who do know find it annoying but believe that there is no way their government would allow this sort of thing to happen to French citizens (dual or not).

I am waiting for the day FATCA goes on-line and French citizens start to be inconvenienced (or if they are dual U.S./French citizens) turned over to the tender mercies of the IRS. Then, I think, there will be an uproar. On the other hand, it is entirely possible that the U.S. and France will come to a "gentleman's agreement" to leave the duals alone in order to avoid unseemly squabbles over which citizens (and the right to tax) belong to whom. A suivre.


Tim said...

If there is someone you should blame I suspect it is more unaccountable "career" civil servants at the French Ministry of Finance than actual French politicians. The difference between Canada and most other countries is Canada's civil service is politizied to a much greater extent than in France, the UK, or the US. To take an example in Canada recently the civil servant head of nuclear safety was fired by the Prime Minister for political reasons. Very few other heads of government would have the nerve to do that. Another example is that the Canada Revenue Agency is one of the only tax collection agencies in the world to be run "politically"(I think New Zealand might be the other) and there has been a history of political influence on tax collection operations.

The link below gives a good idea how tax policy in Canada is run.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Tim, Very interesting link. Clearly the decision was controversial but, looking at it from the outside, it seems to be common sense even if it is not strictly in line with the law.

Forgive my heresy but the law ain't everything. It doesn't cover all situations and can even lead to something I consider worse than technical breaches of the law: a lack of justice.

I think its' normal that some discretion be granted to people working in the government. My .02>