Panel session – US Expat Tax Conference from Deborah Hicks on Vimeo.
Should taxation be based on the “circumstances of your birth” or the “circumstances of your life”? President Obama doesn’t think (apparently) that the “circumstances of your birth” birth should determine the “outcome of your life”. Should the “circumstances of your birth” determine your tax residency?
This is a second post exploring what is the true meaning of U.S. citizenship-based taxation. In an earlier post – “Toward A Definition Of Citizenship Taxation” – I explored the contextual meaning and effect of U.S. “citizenship taxation”. The only “contextual effect” and “practical meaning” of U.S. citizenship taxation may be described as:
Therefore, the practical meaning of “citizenship taxation” is the United States imposing taxation on the non-US source income earned by people who live in other countries. To be clear: citizenship taxation means that the United States is claiming the residents of OTHER countries as US residents for tax purposes!
That’s amazing stuff! Most countries believe that they are sovereign and that includes sovereignty over matters of taxation. Yet, any country that is a party to a U.S. tax treaty has actually agreed that a subset of the treaty partner’s tax residents are ALSO U.S. tax residents! Although nobody questions the right of the United States to prescribe its own definition of tax residency, few would agree that the United States has the right to claim the residents of other countries as U.S. tax residents. Yet, this is what the U.S. citizenship taxation regime means. This U.S. extraterritorial claim of taxation is at the root of the FATCA administration problems and at the root of the the events that led to Treasury Notice 2023-11 (released on December 30, 2022).
Introduction – The Readers’ Digest Version
This is Part 2 of a series of posts discussing the world of FATCA and how IRS Notice 2023-11 is likely to impact it. In Part 1 I described how Notice 2023-11 imposes significant additional obligations on both non-US banks and the IGA Model 1 governments. (This post will be best understood by first reading Part 1 and understanding the additional compliance burdens imposed on non-US banks as a result of Notice 2023-11.) The purpose of this post (Part 2) is to suggest that the overall context of FATCA, the FATCA IGAs and US citizenship taxation will incentivize non-US banks to purge US citizen clients. It is reasonable to conclude, that US citizen clients are a clear and present danger to their businesses.
Welcome To 2023 – A Year Of Heightened FATCA Enforcement
On December 30, 2022 US Treasury released Notice 2023-11. The broad purpose of the Notice is to prescribe conditions that would allow non-US banks to temporarily avoid a designation of “significant non-compliance” under the FATCA IGAs. It is important to note that Notice 2023-11 is NOT simply a “stay of execution”. It is a “stay of execution” that is conditional on both non-US banks and their governments participating in a significant escalation of FATCA enforcement on US citizens who live outside the United States.
The purpose of this post is to comment on and analyze the provisions of Notice 2023-13 which strongly incentivize non-US banks to purge themselves of existing US citizen clients. In Part 2 I will explain why I believe that non-US banks may be forced to close the accounts of all their US citizen customers.
Prologue And Summary Of The Issue
Through a combination of FATCA (“Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act”) found Chapter 4 of the Internal Revenue Code and the FATCA IGAs (the mechanism for countries to comply with FATCA) the United States has created conditions where US citizen customers are a burden and risk to non-US banks. These provisions have created conditions that threaten punitive financial sanctions on non-US banks who cannot notify the IRS of a US citizen’s Social Security Number. Generally this is because the US citizen has lived abroad for many years and does NOT have a SSN. This situation has created worry for the banks and for their US citizen customers. The fact that the US citizen does NOT have a SSN is NOT relevant to the reporting obligation imposed on the bank. To be clear: The FATCA IGAs mean that non-US banks can easily be in “significant non-compliance” for the failure to comply with something that is impossible to comply with.