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Friday, September 28, 2012

Americans Abroad and FATCA Finally Hits the Homeland News

Just in from Just Me....

After months of letter writing, multiple blog articles and the tireless efforts of organizations like ACA and AARO, the issues that Americans abroad have with the extra-territorial U.S. legislation, FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), have made it to the mainstream American media.

Sure, some journalists have been nibbling around the edges of the issue with articles about the rising number of Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship and the rising concern over FATCA as we get closer and closer to implementation but there hasn't been much that ties it all together for a general homeland audience.

Originally published in USA Today, a national daily newspaper in the U.S., this article,  European banks shut Americans out over U.S. tax rules by Bill Hinchberger was picked up by ABC News, one of the largest American news networks.

The article is concise, well-written, factually correct and tells the stories of real people who are impacted by this legislation.  What a relief and joy to read the words of a journalist who dug deep enough to get the real story which is not about rich Americans living it up on the Riviera (that's the main theme for other journalists who are too lazy to look farther than the ends of their noses) but about people like Scott Schmith from Sioux City, Iowa.  A veteran of the U.S. military, he's worked abroad for 20 years and has a photography business in Switzerland.  Or Genette Eysselinck from North Carolina who is married to a Belgian national and has lived in Europe for many years.

These people and many others like me are the collateral damage in this grand scheme to fight tax evasion - the eggs that are being broken in the making of the FATCA omelette.   Like Mr. Schmith and Madame Eysselinck (two very courageous Americans abroad who allowed their names to be published in this article), I don't particularly want to give up my U.S. citizenship either.  But there are days when after trying so desperately trying to capture the attention of homelanders in the U.S. or to get even the briefest acknowledgement that there might be a wee problem with their plans for world domination out of a U.S. lawmaker, one does have to wonder if cutting those ties (however painful that may be) might not be the only sane solution left.

This quotation from Mike Helmos sums up quite nicely our concern that things, as bad as they are now, could get much much worse.  He says, "FBAR and FATCA seem to be tipping points. Americans who reside abroad have a lot of different annoyances and problems that come with citizenship. With FBAR and FATCA, it is like, 'What else have you got for me?'"



Anonymous said...

Glad to read this. I guess misery loves company. FATCA is an abomination, a possibly unconstitution empowerment by the US of foreign entities made to monitor the ordinary financial activities of normal working Americans and dual nationals living abroad. Yet as of now, I've read nothing about any civil liberties or other organizations filing suit in the Supreme Court to test constitutionality. Can't we organize ? Or are we afraid to? (I, for one, am ashamed to admit that it's the case.) The anti-FATCA Facebook page has only a couple of "Likes". I think I know why... Thanks for your Flophouse. It somehow looks like a confortable oasis for suffocating expats in need of a breath of fresh air before confronting the nasty task of wading through the mire.. or renouncing. Hats off to you !

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Yes, anonymous, I have to agree. It is a wretched situation that surprisingly has many fans. When I run it by 'homelanders" in both France and the US their first reaction seems to be "what a splendid idea!"

Are we afraid to organize. In a word: yes. I think most folks are so afraid to get on the radar of the US government that they refuse to allow their names to be used or to have any public association with the movement against FATCA. And boy do I understand that fear. I'm afraid too but, hey, I've a slightly different perspective these days - I'm a cancer patient so this is isn't even making my top five fears right now. :-)

Thank you for the kind words about the Flophouse. They made my day last week when I was suffering though the aftermath of chemo round 6.

Take good care,


Anonymous said...

You're the one who should take good care! I read about your trial only after I posted as I was browsing through the rest, a pleasant discovery.. until I came upon your story. Truly, I must say that FATCA is nothing next to what you're going through. But who needs this extra grief ? This is the first time I've ever posted anything anonymously, and I hate doing it this way. But somehow I feel that Big Brother is keeping a watchout on even innocous blogs like this one. Stay well and I'll be back. Maybe not so anonymously the next time... A smile for you :-)

legalalien said...

I am so happy to have found your blog. Your writings resonate so strongly with me. After twenty years of living in Europe it had never occurred to me to renounce my citizenship but I hate paperwork. In my resident country, I can file via text message "do you accept this tax amount" and answer with a Yes or No. I have 15 bank accounts - each for a different use (Christmas savings, vacations savings, monthly expenses, etc.) most of which never have more than 100 dollars in them - it's just the way my mind works. I can't fill out a form for each of these - much less pay a fine for each for account I haven’t filed.

I can’t possibly owe any taxes because my foreign husband supports me, I even read somewhere they could take a chunk of his income. I am having fantasies about flying to Morocco and buying a Canadian passport and starting a new life in South Africa. Desperation is setting in.

Who will be the Expats Erin Brockovich?

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@legalalien, Thank you so so much for stopping by and reading and leaving a comment. I have a similar number of accounts and like you a lot of them are very small. We set up accounts for our daughters, for example, for college and pocket money. Sounds like you wouldn't owe taxes but the thing to watch out for is the penalties. That's really what has so many people scared. I'm to the best of my knowledge compliant but I can't even be sure of that because my tax return comes back from my accountant and I don't UNDERSTAND ANY OF IT. It's that complex. And, yes, it's driving me you and so many others to desperate measures to get out from under all that fear and uncertainty. Courage!