American dual nationals in France urge government help on unfair tax practices

Published:  13 Feb at 6 PM
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A group of American/French citizens are seeking French government support to end US dual taxation.

The group is the latest of several attempts by dual nationality American expats to get help to end the US taxman’s grip on their finances. The plan so far is to collect enough signatures on a petition in order to have a motion tabled in the French National Assembly, according to Fabien Lehagre, leader of the French/American group Accidental American Association. The association has 320 members at the present time, but is growing fast as others in the same situation realise they’re under threat of tax obligations due to their distant links with the USA.

The majority of the group were born in the USA, but left with their parents when they were 10 years old or less, with Lehagre and his family arriving in France when he was 18 months of age. Unfortunately, US tax law states every individual born in the country must file an annual tax return after they hit a certain age. For Lehagre and hundreds like him, none of whom regard themselves as Americans and many of whom didn’t discover they were American citizens until well into adulthood, the situation is bizarre at best and extremely unfair at worst.

The issue came into the public domain post-FATCA, America’s hated Foreign Tax Account Transparency Act, with the French attempt one of a number over the past several years, none of which has seen much success. The Act made it easy for the URS to hit on expat Americans for tax, with many now owing for fines as well as the tax itself, but it made the expat task of getting normal banking facilities almost impossible due to the threat of massive fines for banks who didn’t comply with its extensive regulations.

Canada’s ‘accidental Americans’ succeeded in persuading the country’s then Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to speak up on their behalf, but the majority of Canadian MPs weren’t interested in moving forward with a plan to aid the one million US expats in the country. A good number of ‘accidentals’ have decided to renounce their citizenship rather than face swingeing tax demands from the IRS, thus prompting the US government to raise the fee for renunciation by a massive 422 per cent to $2,350. Many renouncees believe it’s a tax by another name.

Even so, renunciations have soared since the fee hike, and there’s now media speculation that British Prince Harry’s future wife Meghan Markle might need to renounce her US citizenship in order to avoid the British Royal Family’s compulsory inclusion in US tax matters and the law’s reporting and financial complications. Another unforeseen complication for US expats might well be linked to the recent US tax bill under which a one-time deemed repatriation tax at 15.5 per cent is to be levied on profits accumulated overseas, whether or not they’re repatriated to the USA.
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