FATCA EU hearing: European citizens have a long way to go

4 min
Published on: 18-11-2019 Last modified on: 01-02-2024

On November 12, 2019, there was a hearing on the consequences of the American FATCA legislation in the European Parliament in Brussels. Americans Overseas was present.

Following a petition, a hearing was held in the European Parliament on November 12, 2019. Various stakeholders and interested parties, including Accidental Americans, members of the European Parliament, representatives of the Dutch and French governments, and of the European Banking Federation (EBF) discussed the FATCA legislation and the resulting problems for European citizens.

FATCA EU hearing

The first to speak was Jude Ryan, who has been fighting for several years against the unlawful consequences of this US legislation. He indicated through a timeline that he had to wait three years to get any answer at all from the EU. The answer he received then did not respond to his question.

Reijer Janssen, Deputy Director of International Tax and Consumer Tax at the Ministry of Finance, took the floor on behalf of the Netherlands. He diplomatically expressed what the Netherlands has achieved so far.

Mr. Janssen indicated that it would be desirable for the fees of $2,350 to be reduced and that a declaration of cancellation of American citizenship should no longer in general be necessary. He also said that 4,000 TIN numbers are still missing from Dutch banks at the moment; 400 customers from this group have assets of more than €50,000.

European Banking Federation on FATCA

Roger Kaiser indicated on behalf of the EBF (European Banking Federation) that he finds the publication by the Americans of an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page a signal that shows that the problem is known to America. The issue of having fines imposed on the banks is very serious.

However, he still lacks a formal ruling from the US government that banks can rely on to prevent fines. In short, banks demand more security against American sanctions.

It is striking that the Dutch and French banks especially are being fairly rigorous about closing bank accounts, while banks in other countries are more cautious before they close accounts. This may be due to a lack of information in these other countries.

EU’s wait-and-see attitude to FATCA

MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld criticized the wait-and-see attitude of the EU compared with France, the Netherlands, and the UK. No representatives from other countries were present. It has drawn up a number of letters and additional documentation indicating that this problem has been known since 2011 and that the EU is not taking proper action.

In a PowerPoint presentation, lawyer Filippo Noseda presented several of these letters which indeed show that this issue was signaled as a problem by the EU years ago, but that nothing has really been done about it.

The issues surrounding FATCA fall between two stools. The EU points to Member States that have made individual agreements in the form of IGAs (Inter-Governmental Agreements), while Member States argue that this is an EU issue.

FATCA EU hearing: no infringement of privacy

Another complaint from the European Americans was that FATCA would be a violation of their privacy. On behalf of DG Just, Alisa Vekeman and her colleague indicated that they had not received any complaints concerning infringement of data privacy about FATCA.

However, they have carried out investigations and again found that no problem has been identified by Member States at the time of signing the IGA. She also recently affirmed that the Conseil d’Etat stated that there was no infringement of privacy.

Request to Finnish Presidency of the EU

The session ended with the request of several members, including MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, to write to the Finnish Presidency. The EU Parliament cannot impose anything by itself.

During the Finnish Presidency in the second half of 2019, all ministers represented (such as Menno Snel, Secretary of State for Finance for the Netherlands) will have to make approaches to America. That road seems very long since after 8 years of struggle there is only a sense of seriousness in the Netherlands, France, and, to a limited extent, the UK.

Other countries may not see it as a priority. MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld also indicates that different interests, such as the larger transatlantic agreements with the Americans, play a role in such restraint. These interests go beyond the rights of a substantial group of EU citizens, she says.

Americans Overseas: Advice for EU citizens with American tax duty

Americans Overseas informs local and European parliaments about the effects and problems that European citizens have with these (recently) introduced laws. By constantly putting the subject on the agenda and giving it attention, various changes have been achieved.

We started Americans Overseas to help people from all over the world by supplying good information to prevent unnecessary panic and to provide free and no-obligation help. If necessary, we have a network of affordable professionals (accountants) who can help you with your tax obligations.

If you have more questions about the FATCA EU hearing or the consequences of FATCA and CBT, you can contact us at Americans Overseas.


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