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ExPat CPA discusses FATCA Report | OVDI 2011 was Partial Bluff

ExPat CPA in Wilmington NC discusses FATCA

Gary Bode, CPA: The IRS amnesty program suceeded using a partial bluff. For a free initial phone consult, please call (910) 399-2705.

This ExPat CPA has heard stories of foreign banks closing out American accounts secondary to the FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) backlash. FATCA requires foreign banks to directly report certain banking information about American accounts to the IRS, or withhold 30% on certain payments. Sort of like the existing IRS policy with American banks and American employers. Even our neighbor Canada politely points out that they don’t care to become an extension of the IRS. Go figure! It may be harder for ExPats to do business in foreign countries where banks smolder under IRS demands.

Foreign banks cite FATCA reporting requirements, even if legal, add costs to their operations. And, there is no question that’s true. American employers, for example, bear the cost of IRS compliance, like producing W-2s and Form 1099s, while the IRS exalts their internal operating efficiency. But these are American companies, not foreign entities. While I applaud efforts to cut tax evasion, I don’t like further alienating foreign powers.

So FATCA derives from well proven IRS domestic strategy. I don’t know how they formulated FATCA, but it seems they should have included ExPats, ExPat CPAs, polls on expected foreign response, etc., during its formulation. Much of the back lash could have been anticipated. Resentment is so high over the FATCA initiative that the IRS has decided to phase it in, an indication that the final version will morph into less than the total compliance desired.

But the bluff worked and you have to admire that. An internal IRS report praised their foreign bank amnesty programs. And rightly so, as it reined in a nice chunk of the secret banking activity. Amnesty programs were the carrot and FATCA was the stick. But the stick was a partial bluff. I have the greatest respect for IRS ability, but it has limited resources. Some foreign countries will certainly not comply with FATCA. Even in America, internal IRS PR promotes an aura of omniscience. This is actually close to the truth, but they lack the resources to bring that power to bear in every case. Sort of like street cops who don’t have time to enforce the seat belt infractions they see every day. There will always be foreign banks that cater to secret accounts for Americans.

We’re an ExPat CPA firm with a virtual office to serve international clients. Please read any of our posts to gauge our expertise and proactive philosophy. We offer a free initial phone consult on any ExPat issue at (910) 399-2705.

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