Accidental Americans take French banks to court over FATCA

Published:  9 Jul at 6 PM
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An ‘Accidental American’ group at present living and working in France are now taking legal action based on the claim that FATCA is being used by French banks as an excuse to turn away USA expats’ bank account applications.

The group’s complaint isn’t the first time certain worldwide banks have been accused of using FATCA as a basis for expat account refusals. The FATCA legislation includes swingeing penalties for foreign banks which refuse to comply with the new American regulations, and has caused refusals ever since FATCA become law in the USA. Basically, foreign banks with US expat clients risk being held accountable for undeclared expat-owned assets held by personal banking clients.

Accidental Americans are individuals who’ve acquired US citizenship either directly from their parents or were born whilst their parents were in the USA, even although they may have left as a newborn babe in arms. These, and others, are considered as American citizens by the US taxman, no matter what their present-day nationality, and all are subject to the hated FATCA tax law.

The France-based Accidental Americans Association (AAA) and its 278 members yesterday lodged a complaint with a Paris criminal court, based on discrimination by French banks. Lawyers for the AAA told the press French banks are claiming filing the tax information of US expat clients would be too expensive, but AAA’s team are stating clearly that excluding a potential client because of his or her nationality is clearly discrimination and therefore against French law.

Some 10,000 American expat professionals are estimated to be living and working in France, the majority of whom will have had similar difficulties getting a French bank to take them on. The issue has been front-page ever since FATCA kicked in, with Western banks immediately making their positions very clear. They are not, nor will they be, used as tax collectors by any foreign government’s agencies, irrespective of the time and money it takes to comply.
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