March 2014: DC meetings on Reforming FATCA

FBAR/FATCA Task Force meeting with regulators yields valuable feedback

During the 2014 Democrats Abroad Congressional door knock, the FBAR/FATCA Task Force scheduled a comprehensive slate of meetings with regulators and legislators in order to advance our recommended reforms to the law’s implementation rules.  Meetings included the following groups:  Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation; the Senate Committee on Finance; the IRS; the IRS’s National Taxpayer Advocate; the Department of Treasury; the General Accountability Office; and myriad Congressmen including Senators sitting on the Senate Finance Committee Carl Levin, Bob Casey, Bill Nelson, Bob Menendez and Ben Cardin and ranking Democrats on the House Ways & Means Committee Sandy Levin and Charlie Rangel.  

Our recommended reforms, aimed at preserving the intent of FATCA to catch tax cheats but removing the excessive burden it places on law-abiding Americans living abroad, were given a fair hearing.  The centerpiece of our advocacy efforts is a change to the regulations that would exempt foreign financial institutions in a particular country from reporting on the accounts of Americans who are legally resident in that country.

The regulators asked good questions and provided advice on what further information might compel them to address the law’s unintended adverse consequences (ie account closures).  The legislators were supportive of our efforts and, to a person, extended an offer of support with our advocacy.

Where to from here?  We are using the intel we gathered in DC to develop a second FATCA research project aimed at providing live feedback from overseas Americans on FATCA’s unintended negative impacts.  Given the law is only months away from full implementation we think it is a perfect time to assess its on-the-ground impacts and create a catalogue of incidents of Americans being denied financial services when financial institutions elect to not to comply with FATCA.

This research will follow on from the first Democrats Abroad FATCA research report, published in May of 2012.  This report will provide even more evidence that the law, as it is currently being implemented, is having grave consequences for Americans abroad and compelling support for our recommendation that Americans living abroad be exempted from FATCA reporting requirements for accounts in their country of legal residence.

Please look out for the imminent launch of the Democrats Abroad FATCA survey and complete it right away.  Please post and tweet and distribute the link to the survey as broadly as you can.  We are also re-launching, a website that captures the US tax-related experiences, issues, concerns and complaints of Americans living abroad.  Please also look out for a message with the link to the 2014 version of the expattaxstory website, use it and distribute it liberally as well.

Many thanks for your support,