Here is the draft agenda of Pierre Moscovici, France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, who is in Washington, D.C. right now for the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.
Scroll down to October 11 and tucked between a G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and a one-on-one chat with his counterpart in Australia is this little item:
12h45 : Entretien avec M. Jack LEW, Secrétaire au Trésor des Etats-Unis d’Amérique suivi de la signature de l’accord entre la France et les Etats-Unis pour améliorer le respect des obligations fiscales à l’échelle internationale et mettre en oeuvre la loi FATCA (Washington, DC).A signing during the lunch hour? Nothing is sacred anymore....
Still, good timing for the US Treasury. This would definitely be a big win for them.
What we still don't know, however, is what kind of Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) France has agreed to. While all IGAs have this basic principle: "a partner government will require all foreign financial institutions (FFIs) located in its jurisdiction (that are not otherwise exempt) to identify U.S. accounts and report information about U.S. accounts," there are two different ways, two types of agreements, to implement FATCA.
Model I: Financial institutions report to their local tax authorities (in this case the French "fisc") who then passes that information along to the IRS in the United States. In turn, the US agrees to send information about accounts in the US to the tax authorities in the partner country. So, for example, in the German IGA, there is a provision for reciprocity, with information flowing into the US from German FFI's and out of the US to Germany from American banks and financial institutions.
Model II: Financial institutions in that country will pass information directly from the banks and other financial institutions to the US government (IRS). This is the type of agreement signed by Japan.
There are other differences between the two and I encourage you to read at least one of these agreements paying special attention to Annex 1 - how local US accounts will be identified by local banks. For a good side-by-side comparison of the Model I versus the Model II, Deloitte has this chart up on their site.
I am 99.9% certain that France will go for the Model I - the one with a two-way information exchange.
We'll find out tomorrow.