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Friday, October 11, 2013

France/US FATCA IGA Signing Postponed

"My government isn't working.  What shall I do?"

"Have you tried turning it off and on?"

One of the consequences of the U.S. government being firmly in the "off" position right now is that the signing of the France/USA FATCA deal was cancelled.  At a press conference in Washington French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said:

"We were supposed to sign the French-US convention implementing FATCA which, unfortunately, must be delayed at the request of the Americans because of the shutdown and the working conditions at the US Treasury."

I suspect that regardless of who may or may not have been available to put pen to paper, the timing was terrible.  France is a big win for Treasury and their victory would not have garnered much attention with all the brouhaha over the shutdown.

What we can safely say, however, is that there is an FATCA IGA coming soon to theaters near to us in France.  But we still don't know the particulars though we are all pretty certain that it's a Model I agreement (see comments on yesterday's post).  

Yesterday, a Flophouse reader did leave a link to an intriguing story in Les Echos,  Le modèle d’accord intergouvernemental français enfin prêt pour signature.  The authors claimed to have inside information about the negotiations.  The French government had three objectives, they said:  reciprocity (the French want information from the US), the legal security of French financial institutions, and the protection of personal data.   Here are a few of the details they say are in the IGA:

• Les diligences à respecter devraient être établies par le Trésor public plutôt que selon les règles de l’IRS. Cela devrait permettre une approche par ligne de métier ;
(The procedures to follow should be established by the French Treasury rather than according to the IRS rules. This should allow an approach by line of business.)

• Exclusions des produits d’épargnes (livret A notamment), des caisses de retraite, des produits d’épargnes retraites, et des FCPE. Le PEA reste inclus dans le périmètre FATCA ;
(Exclusion of the proceeds of savings (notably the Livret A), pensions, retirement savings and the FCPEs.  The PEA remains within the scope of FATCA;)

All this to be confirmed as soon as the US government gets turned back on and has the time to boot up.

Last word.  Something that I and others (French citizens at home and abroad and legal residents of France) have been very frustrated by is the lack of transparency by the French government about these negotiations.  There has been almost no information forthcoming about it and precious little attention paid to the impact on private citizens (not banks).

We are very aware that this IGA is going to have an enormous personal impact on us and our families.  And yet even today all we can do is sit and wait and stew and speculate.

But there is more than one way to skin a cat.  

The United States has something called the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Anyone can petition the US government for information pertaining to a particular topic and, unless it is top secret for one reason or another, it is usually granted.

James Jatras of Repeal FATCA has submitted an FOIA request for:
"copies of records in connection with negotiation of IGAs with the governments of Canada, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The request covers “all departmental records (paper or electronic) concerning communications (emails, paper correspondence, or records of in-person meetings) between Treasury officials and officials of the three foreign states indicated above relevant to negotiation of IGAs with such foreign states, as well as departmental records concerning worldwide implementation of FATCA that may be relevant to the IGAs with any of the three foreign states indicated."

I humbly suggest that we file another FOIA asking for exactly the same data about the IGA negotiations between France and the US.   

What do you think?


Christophe said...

I think it's a good idea, but I am afraid all we might get is a bunch of blanked out documents, similar to what Sophie Int' Veld received when she made her request.
We haven't heard much about her lately regarding FATCA.

Enjoy your weekend, even with those latest news.

bubblebustin said...

Something I've been thinking for awhile. Jim Jatras should be made an honourary Canadian.
It's "unfortunate" that France's IGA signing has been delayed - or is Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici being sarcastic?
France, saved from FATCA by the TEA Party! (at least for the moment).

P. Moore said...

There is nothing to lose by making a FOI request. Even if you don't get a clear answer, it will tell you something and if they refuse to answer, it tells you even more.

Anonymous said...

FATCA would not survive close scrutiny by all the citizens and voters and taxpayers subjected to it. That is why the secrecy from both sides in every country where the US seeks to make Made-in-the-US extraterritorial domestic laws trump the laws of every other country in the world.

Where is French sovereignty, autonomy and Liberté, égalité, fraternité ?

Just Me said...

The problem is, you can never turn it off, as the Republicans have learned. :)

Victoria FERAUGE said...

But it can be slowed down, right? :-)