Monday, July 15, 2013

Here I go again -- FATCA

Okay, if you are sick of hearing about FATCA from me, just stop reading this post, now. You might want to read a really nice post about Bastille Day and see some remarkable pictures: arunwithaview.wordpress.com

This is not about the US and FATCA. The US has created a little wagon and that is growing into a train. Let me add that the wagon is a bit of a runaway, so that the others that want to hitch on to it are going to have a hell of a ride. While there is starting to be some debate in the US about getting rid of FATCA, on this side of the ocean, they starting to think that the US may be on to something and "we" should do it, too.

TS, one of the people I met up with in Brussels a couple of months ago, sent me these links to some videos he found:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATyHzS6MEfY and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtDroiW9k4I. Sorry, but I can't seem to get the link to work to embed the videos.
TS wanted to know what they were saying. They're in French, not English. So, I watched.
Between the solid lined is the body of my email to T:
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Before getting on to what they said, I did some very quick research into who the speakers are:
  • Mathilde Dupré is the moderator of the first video is a member of Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EELV), (no longer)* a deputy in the French Parliament, member of the Finance, General Economy, and Budget Control Commission. At the  CCFD-Terre solidaire, a leftist-Catholic association, Mathilde Dupré is the lead in pleading against fiscal fraud.
    * I mis-identified her as a currently a deputy in my email.
  • Éva Sas is also an EELV deputy, member of the Finance, General Economy, and Budget Control Commission.
  • Pascal Cherki is a deputy, member of the Parti socialiste, and member of the Commission des finances 
  • Marie-Noëlle Lienemann is a member of the Parti socialiste, a senator and former member of the European ParliamentShe is currently attached to the EELV
  • Jean Merckaert is the moderator of the second video. He is editor-in-chief of www.Revue-Projet.com, previously with : 
  • CCFD-Terre Solidaire
  •  
  • FICONPAZ. Within CCFD 
  •  (Comité catholique contre la faim et pour le développement) he pleads for financing developing countries and in that role is a leader against fiscal paradises...
  • Serge Colin is the head of the union of tax agency employees (secrétaire général du syndicat national unifié des impôts (SNUI)).
Video 1
MD opened with announcing there is confusion between what the US is doing and the rest of the world. She went on with a summary of what FATCA means -- collecting the bank data on US "ressortissants", both individuals and corporations (which we know means US persons). She then said there were differences between those countries that signed IGAs and those that have not. For the most part, discussions are about how to comply and or reach an IGA, not about implementing their own comparable legislation. Considering how hard it has been for the last 10 years to get Luxembourg and Austria to agree to current EU data sharing, she hopes that FATCA will bring them around. Her conclusion is that France be a leader and should enact its own version of FATCA as a step towards EU law, not wait for the EU to act first.
ES said the the EELV had come up with such a law proposal but that the government has amended it to say only that if the EU enacts such legislation, it would apply immediately in France. She wants France to enact first, because FATCA is a model and has shown it is possible and that it is time to stop the "laissez-faire" attitude that allows frauds to wait out.
PC emphasized that the US is the biggest market, so it has great clout because no one wants to be excluded. And the US has its own fiscal paradise: Delaware. He said the US was right to do FATCA the way they are, but that here there are difficulties to such an approach. He said that LU, CH, AT will come around, but the City (UK) remains the 1st offshore platform in the world and will not. So, we need to work on EU consensus and start it here (in France) first. He thinks working on public opinion will be effective in the long term in the UK.
M-NL thinks we need a French law and the Senate has started the process of thinking it out. Bercy (French finance ministry) is against France taking action as it would necessitate the renegotiation of every bi-lateral treaty (so she says, better to get started now, then). She says we (FR) could start with selected countries: those with which agreement is mostly guaranteed and those with which France can apply political pressure. She said we could and should do it. We have the means (secret services and current data sources). We can start also within the EU with "coopération renforcée" (enhanced cooperation) among a few EU countries.
NDA is also in favor of French enacting a FATCA-type law. And doing it first, because he does not think there is a need for an EU law. He is astonished that the French administration is contemplating an IGA with the US that does not guarantee reciprocity. If that is the case, it should not be ratified by parliament. (MD said that France foresees a reciprocity IGA, but with the knowledge that the US is not ready to comply.) He also suggested that France could use the same leverage (no access to our market) rather than judicial debate...
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Video 2
JM opened with the question: why don't we do the same?
SC said, of course, we can. France, alone, might be too small, but in conjunction with others, why not? Rules and procedures will be necessary for data protection.
AP said that there is a need for safeguards, but the info is already there, already collected for police enquiries, not for general fiscal collection. He said, though, that trusts remain opaque and that many frauds are outside the commercial banks, in private, "family" banks in Jersey, Guernsey, etc.
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My take:
No matter how much we might want to see FATCA go away, it won't. Even if the US turns against it, the cat is out of the bag. It'll grow into a global monster. I might not want it, but, actually, as a compliant taxpayer, I can live with it -- as long as discrimination against me is not allowed. As the case stands, now, there is discrimination.
I'm of a mind to write to the people who spoke in these videos. For them it's about banks and frauds, not about real people. Also, where the US wants info on its "persons", every other country is only interested in its "contribuables", taxpayers, who, based on residency-based-taxation, do not include their citizens who live outside the country. (But then, I am a pessimist on that count, too, as I think some countries consider the US system of citizen-based-taxation to be something to aim for! I know François Hollande does!)

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After all that, I then wrote to those deputies and senator and pleaded for them to consider the average expat/immigrant, who is not a fraud, who is simply living and working in a country, who is not really the target of FATCA. I asked that if they are really considering such legislation, that they think first -- something the US Congress neglected to do. That if France signs an IGA, that it hold off enforcement until the US can assure reciprocity. That they insist that financial institutions in signatory countries not be able to discriminate against nationals of those countries, and have due recourse in case of discrimination, that they define "foreign account" so that accounts in the country of residence not be considered "foreign". 
But let's face it. I'm sick of writing to senators, deputies, representatives here, there, and everywhere. I'm sick of writing about it to you. I'm about ready to give up.
And that's it for today. It's a beautiful day. Here's that link, again, to that nice post about Bastille Day and great pictures: arunwithaview.wordpress.com


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