Under-fire DeVere group founder and chief executive Nigel Green has launched a Washington, DC-based lobbying and media campaign to support the repeal of the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA.
Enacted in 2010 and signed into law by former US president Barack Obama, FATCA is virtually unknown to most Americans but, according to Green, has been “wreaking havoc with the global financial system” outside the US.
As a result, according to a statement released by deVere Group, Green has joined forces with a Washington DC-based former US diplomat and longtime Senate leadership staffer Jim Jatras, of the media and government relations firm Global Strategic Communications Group (GSCG). Jatras edits an online anti-FATCA blog called RepealFATCA.com, which is dedicated to getting rid of what he calls “the worst law most Americans have never heard of”.
Originally launched as potential roadblock to discourage “fat cat” tax evaders stashing funds offshore, FATCA is, Green, pictured left, says, “instead an indiscriminate information dragnet” that obliges all non-US financial institutions – banks, credit unions, insurance companies, investment and pension funds and so on – in every country in the world to report to the US Internal Revenue Service on any accounts they hold which belong to Americans.
Almost as soon as the law was passed, such non-US financial institutions began to stop accepting Americans as clients, and asking those American clients they already had to take their business elsewhere.
Also from FATCA’s inception, elements in the Republican party have opposed FATCA, and in September, a Republican member of the US House of Representatives, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, introduced a bill aimed at repealing it.
The campaign could provide a welcome distraction for Green, who has long been a critic of FATCA and its impact on non-US financial companies and US citizens living abroad.
The deVere Group has been under fire in recent weeks, as reported, due to reports of investigations of aspects of its business in the UK and South Africa. With respect to its South Africa business, deVere says it has been the subject of an “attack” in that country from online activists, and creators of what the company calls “false and a misleading websites” linked to its local subsidiary company.
FATCA, says Green, is “an extra-territorial diktat that burdens other countries’ financial institutions and their clients, which violates other countries’ sovereignty, and which is detrimental to their consumers and taxpayers.”
“FATCA turns law-abiding, middle-class Americans living overseas, of whom there are approximately eight million, into financial pariahs,” he continues, adding that it has also driven up the number of US citizenship renunciations to unprecedented levels, even as the price of renouncing has been rising steadily, leaping at one point shortly after the FATCA exodus began by 422%, to US$2,350 from from US$450, making it, according to Forbes, “more than twenty times the average level in other high-income countries”.
Trump election win
Like many other FATCA opponents, Green believes the combination of Donald Trump’s recent election victory coupled with a Republican Congress could mean the act’s days are numbered. Although Trump isn’t known to have mentioned FATCA specifically, repealing it has been part of the Republican Party’s official policy for the last few years, and, as reported last November, his election brought hope to those who have been crusading against it.
As part of Green’s initiative, Jatras is assembling a team of experienced Washington professionals to push the repeal effort over the top. And they believe a pending tax reform bill may represent their best chance in years.
“Nigel’s deciding to step up to the plate is just tremendous,” said Jatras. “Billions of dollars have been wasted worldwide complying with FATCA, billions of words have been written complaining about it. Now it’s time for action. When that tax bill gets to President Trump’s desk, we want FATCA repeal in it.”