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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Now We Are "Endorsing Tax Evasion"?

A few days ago Ms. Rebecca Wilkins, executive director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition, wrote an ill-considered and insulting editorial in support of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act which was published in The Hill, a blog for politicians and their staffers in Washington, D.C.

She really put her foot in it and she's still smelling her shoe - angry comments and emails are flying at her from all around the world pointing out the unintended consequences of this very broadly written extra-territorial law.

Her claim that being against FATCA is akin to endorsing tax evasion is about as silly as me claiming that she is for FATCA because she's a shill for the compliance industry (FATCATS of another sort).

I will put this as plainly as I can, Ms. Wilkins, FATCA is a very bad law with a slew of unintended consequences. It is not a well-designed net,  it is a fine-meshed trawl that indiscriminately hauls in the minnows and the plankton along with the whales, leaving devastation in its wake.

Somehow it escaped the notice of Congress, President Obama, and now you, Ms. Wilkins, that there are 7 million Americans working and living abroad, most of whom work as teachers, translators, and artists.  FATCA makes no distinction between "wealthy Americans [who] hide their assets and use offshore accounts to evade tax" and English teachers in Eastern Europe or France or Korea holding basic savings and checking accounts and the local equivalent of an IRA in the country where they actually live.

FATCA falls on the just and the unjust alike (but the unjust have better lawyers).  Right now it's everyone's  foreign-to-the-US-but-local-to-them checking, savings and retirement accounts abroad that are in peril because of FATCA.  The choices that Americans abroad are having to make as a result are ghastly:  your house or your US citizenship;  your retirement savings or your US citizenship;  your marriage or your US citizenship.

This is why Americans abroad, Ms. Wilkins, get a little testy when you write something that extols the virtues of FATCA and say that anyone who is against it is in cahoots with the criminals.  Those are fighting words these days.  Opposition to the law has united Americans abroad all over the world and you are hearing their voices from Canada and China, France and Finland, Vietnam and Venezuela.  These minnows are not "for tax evasion", they just want the country they have been loyal to to fix the mess you and other homeland zealots created.

They are asking for something you should understand very well because you say you are for it too:



Janet said...

Thank you Victoria for answering Ms. Wilkens. At the moment I am very discouraged. I feel it is futile to write yet another letter to the Senate Finance Committee or to my senator or representative or to President Obama since none of them really read what we write. The response is always the same - FATCA is needed to catch tax evaders. The only hope I see is in legal action.

Tim said...

My prediction is within the next few months the latest rage will be the American Expats should be hung with piano wire. Remember that 2009 press release I posted yesterday. If you go back and actually look when it was released it was "right" in middle of the whole AIG executive bonus scandal when many Americans wanted AIG executives to be hung with guess what "piano wire."

Interestingly enough on Twitter Ms. Wilkins has "doubled down" and continues to say those who oppose FATCA support tax evasion.

Tim said...

In case you are curious this is what Rebecca J Wilkins looks like.

Inaka Nezumi said...

Come on, Victoria, don't hold back. Tell us what you really think.

Yes, I can't figure out these Tax Justice Network people. From their stated principles, they should be on our side. In practice, they seem quiet happy to throw the people they should in theory be worried about under the bus, as long as it permits them to fire off some shallow-sounding sound-bite.

P. Moore said...

Thanks for the post Victoria. Your comments along with the string of responses on The Hill's website pretty much destroy Ms. Wilkens' credibility, yet she and others seem to hold her out as some sort of expert on the subject. All I can say is it takes precious little to be counted as an expert if she can be respected for such shallow and uninformed views. If however, she knows better, then it is her integrity that should be called into question, not simple her credibility.

Blaze said...

The Jubilee Network claims we are guilty of corruption, resulting in global poverty.

It may be time for another article. Wanna team up?

EmBEe said...

Please post your comment at The Hill, Victoria. Or better yet incorporate it into a rebuttal article. Another team-up with Blaze would be a much needed boost to the morale of donor-supporters of the ADCS fund. April is going to be a very challenging month for ADCS with double the usual daily amount needed.

Anonymous said...

So interesting that the Tax 'Justice' people and the Jubilee Network have ZERO compassion or concern for the minors and those with disabilities that are having their legal local education and disability savings and benefits taxed extraterritorially by the US. And the Tax 'Justice' and 'Jubilee' Network are entirely unconcerned that these very vulnerable individuals living entirely outside the US are by the US prevented from even the potential remedy of renouncing US taxablecitizenship status(in the case of minors, until they are able to demonstrate they are mature/capable enough, and in the case of those with disabilities of sufficient impact to cause the individuals to be deemed legally incompetent - the US refuses to allow them to EVER renounce/relinquish).

What would the Bible say about taxing the most vulnerable - for example, children and those who depend on the disability savings and benefits provided by their family and their home country? How does that fit with 'justice'?

How is it 'justice' for the US to demand any portion of the education savings and disability savings of minors and the vulnerable in order to pay into the bottomless black hole of the US national debt? How is it justice to provide no assistance for minors and those with disabilities outside the US, yet lay claim to the only assets they have to obtain an education and for living?

How is it 'justice' for the US to demand of the rest of the world what it will never provide?

And to demand that children should file information on their education savings and birthday accounts to a Financial CRIMES Enforcement Network?

For shame.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Oh yeah. I was thinking about the name of these organizations - Citizens for Tax Justice, Tax Justice Network - and thought well we're citizens and we want tax justice too. And good Lord perhaps we should talk. What I'm seeing on Brock and the social media feeds is that she's not willing to talk.

@Janet, That's pretty much where I'm at. I have a lot of faith in Bopp. I wonder how that lawsuit is effecting those who want FATCA to go forward full steam ahead? Are there any signs that the agencies are taking it into account?

@Blaze, YES! Let's fine a good time to chat and see what we can come up with.

@Embee, We'll see what we can do. I think a rebuttal is definitely in order here.

Christophe said...

So very well said. Thank you from a brand new American.

bubblebustin said...

Well it's finally come down to being 'with us or with the tax-evaders', has it?

Go get 'em, Blaze and Victoria.

Unknown said...

An excellent post, Victoria - I'd like to post it on the AARO website and suspect that you would see no objection to that!


Slim Cat said...

These law makers are just clueless about how FATCA affects people and small business. If I kept 10 thousand dollar oversea in order to start a small software business in China now I need to pay $3000 a year to an accountant do my tax !!!!

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Congratulations, Christophe! That great to hear.

@bubblebustin, yeah, I mean Jesus Christ what this is the black or white and if you are against it then you are EVIL crap? Who believes that if you are not for X then it means You Cook and Eat Your Children.

@Lucy, Thank you and yes, it's all yours. :-)

@Slim Cat, I hear you. What a mess this all is.