Jatras and Green renew calls for FATCA repeal

The chief executive of the deVere Group,  Nigel Green, and US policy expert Jim Jatras have renewed calls for the Trump administration to scrap a controversial personal bank data reporting law by calling on US citizens to lobby their senators.

Jatras, pictured left, and Green have been lobbying for the repeal of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)  and to that end co-founded The Campaign to Repeal FATCA.
In a letter a fortnight ago to US Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, the duo described FATCA as the “worst law most Americans have never heard of”.

They said that the law made “financial pariahs” of the more than eight million US citizens who live overseas.

News of their latest call urging US expats to call on their Congressional representatives to ax FATCA coincides with  the announcement, today,  by the Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, that he had introduced an amendment to the tax reform bill currently being considered by the Senate that would see FATCA repealed.

In April, Senator Paul introduced standalone legislation (S. 869) to repeal FATCA, and in August, was one of a number of plaintiffs who lost a US Court of Appeals decision in a case involving the claims of a number of anti-FATCA campaigners who alleged that the law had caused genuine harm to them.

FATCA is a US law that was signed into law by president Obama in 2010 and and came into force on 1 July 2014, and was aimed at ensuring that banks and other “foreign financial institutions” around the world reported to the US tax authorities on any accounts their American clients held. Americans are also obliged to report this information through documents known as FBARs, or foreign bank account reports.

Even before the legislation came into force, American expatriates began to have difficulty obtaining and even keeping overseas bank accounts, mortgages and other financial services products, thus leading to calls for the law to be repealed.

Green, Jatras: failure to act

In a statement, Green and Jatras said that FATCA was a betrayal of the estimated eight million-plus American citizens who live overseas, and noted that that the Trump administration had failed to take action, despite promises in the election campaign that, should they win, the Republicans would “call for repeal” of the legislation.

“FATCA is virtually unknown to most Americans, but has been wreaking havoc with the global financial system outside the US,” a statement alongside the release of the letter to Mnuchin noted.

“Touted as a weapon against ‘fat cat’ tax evaders stashing funds offshore, FATCA is instead an indiscriminate information dragnet requiring all non-US financial institutions (banks, credit unions, insurance companies, investment and pension funds, etc.) in every country in the world to report data on all specified US accounts to the IRS [Internal Revenue Service].

If any country refuses to comply, the statement went on, FATCA provides for its financial sector to be hit with “crippling penalties”.

Now Green and Jatras are pointing to the fact that within days, the Senate version of President Trump’s tax reform bill will come to the Senate floor.

A call to action for US voters

In an open letter to US citizens, they refer to Senator Paul’s plans to introduce an amendment to the tax reform legislation calling for the repeal of FATCA, and urge them to “immediately…contact your senators with this simple message: ‘Support the Paul Amendment to Repeal FATCA”. 

“Given the partisan divide in the Senate”, they add, “it is especially important to contact Republican senators. If your state has one from each party, contact the Republican first.”

To make it easier for individuals to contact their state senattors, the Campaign to Repeal FATCA issued a suggested draft message for voters, the body of which says,  “As your constituent, I strongly urge you to support the floor amendment to be offered by Senator Rand Paul to repeal the so-called Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA.

“Despite the claims of its sponsors when it was passed in 2010, FATCA is a failure in its supposed aim to recover offshore tax assets hidden by ‘fat cats’.

“Instead, it has imposed massive costs on middle-class Americans, violated Americans’ privacy without probable cause, and led to a huge increase in U.S. citizenship renunciations. 

“Please support the Paul Amendment to repeal FATCA!”

Jatras signs off the letter by saying: “Time is of the essence.  This is an urgent call to arms to have this useless and dangerous law scrapped.

“Thank you for your help at this critical moment.

“Transparency is when citizens monitor government.  When government monitors citizens, that’s tyranny.”

Eugene Costello
Eugene Costello has been a journalist for some 20 years, and has written for a wide variety of UK and international newspapers and magazines.

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