‘Accidental americans’ in france press macron for irs relief – bloomberg

The plight of the“accidental Americans” in France like Wiles-Mooij — there are an estimated 10,000 of them — may be discussed by President Emmanuel Macron with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump during an end-April state visit to Washington. Swiss Scandal

They’ve been swept up in Fatca, or the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, a 2010 U.S. measure forcing banks worldwide to scour client lists and report anyone who could be a U.S. citizen, or face being barred from operating in the U.S. Fatca was passed in the aftermath of scandals involving Swiss banks helping wealthy Americans avoid taxes, but has ensnared millions of U.S. citizens of modest means.

Nearly 100 countries have signed treaties with the U.S. to turn over tax information of potential American citizens, even though the U.S. doesn’t reciprocate. The U.S. is the only advanced nation that taxes citizens on worldwide income even when they live abroad.

Marc Le Fur, a French member of parliament who has taken up the accidental Americans’ case, is pushing for relief. “French banks are terrified about their relations with the U.S., that they’ll do anything” Le Fur said in an interview. “We shouldn’t be acting as an auxiliary of the U.S. tax authorities.” France’s banking association says a “diplomatic way ” is best way to address the issue. Some are nevertheless fighting Fatca in French courts. ‘Américains Accidentels’

Meanwhile, the lower house of parliament has formed a bi-partisan committee to look into the steps the government can take to defend the “Accidental Americans.” MPs from Macron’s party are writing him to ask that he raise it with Trump during his April 23-25 visit. The Association

The flurry of activity stems from lobbying by the Association of Accidental Americans, founded in 2015 by Fabien Lehagre, a 33-year-old French salesman at a gas company in Brittany. Lehagre, born near San Francisco — where his French father worked as a waiter — moved to France when he was 18 months old, never learned English and never renewed the U.S. passport he acquired at birth. That didn’t stop his bank identifying him as American.

Lehagre received a letter from his bank in 2014 asking him to provide his social security number, which he’d never heard of, and fill out a series of IRS forms. After learning that on average it costs between 10,000 and 20,000 euros to renounce U.S. citizenship, Lehagre formed the association and started lobbying French government officials.

The association now has 440 members, with about 15 joining each week, Lehagre said. Members say their French banks have arbitrarily closed accounts or withheld U.S. taxes. Some have spent thousands on legal advice to try to settle their U.S. taxes. Second-Class Citizen

Laurent Saint-Martin, an MP from Macron’s party who is joint chair with Le Fur of the parliamentary committee looking into the issue, said he expects to present their report before the summer recess. While powerless to affect U.S. legislation, they’ll propose measures preventing French banks from discriminating against clients for being dual nationals, he said.