Bankers say FATCA makes them tax collectors

| 25/08/2011

(Reuters): A U.S. law meant to snuff out billions of dollars in offshore tax evasion has drawn the criticism of the world's banks and business people, who dismiss it as imperialist and "the neutron bomb of the global financial system." The unusually broad regulation, known as FATCA, or the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, makes the world's financial institutions something of an extension of the tax-collecting Internal Revenue Service — something no other country does for its tax regime.

Conceived as a way to enlist the world in a crackdown on wealthy Americans evading tax, it gives global financial institutions and investment entities a choice: either collect and turn over data on U.S. clients with accounts of at least $50,000, or withhold 30 percent of the interest, dividend and investment payments due those clients and send the money to the IRS.

Foreign institutions and entities that refuse, or fail, to do so face bills for the taxes due, a draconian penalty of 40 percent of the amount in question and heightened scrutiny by the IRS.

"FATCA is a blunt instrument for which foreign banks have no choice but to each spend tens of millions of dollars to help the U.S. enforce its own tax law," said Scott Michel, a tax lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, D.C.
 

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Category: Finance

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