FATCA imposes obligations on both foreign banks (report on individuals to the IRS – Internal Revenue Code Section 1471) and obligations on individual Americans abroad (report foreign assets to the IRS – Internal Revenue Code 6038D).
Depository vs. Custodial Accounts
In general a “Depository” accounts is a basic day-to-day bank account (checking, savings, etc.)
In general a “Custodial” account is a brokerage or other account that holds assets for management.
The Maloney bill addresses these obligations (with respect to the reporting of “Custodial” accounts) differently.
The Maloney bill and foreign banks – Section 1471 Amendments – custodial accounts are reportable
Representative Maloney’s H.R. 4362 – “Overseas Americans Financial Access Act” – includes relief provisions for both foreign banks AND for individual Americans abroad.
My previous post discussed how the Maloney bill impacts the reporting requirements of foreign banks. Notably the Maloney bill relaxes the reporting requirements for foreign banks ONLY with respect to depository accounts.
The Maloney bill and individuals – Section 6038D Amendments – custodial accounts not reportable
It appears that the Maloney bill would relax the Form 8938 reporting requirements for individuals with respect to BOTH depository and custodial accounts. Although not a model of clarity, it means that (as a general principle) Americans abroad would not be required to report their local (foreign to the USA) accounts (depository or custodial) to the IRS. This is a variant of what has been called FATCA SCE (“Same Country Exemption”).
Bottom Line: Foreign banks and Americans abroad do NOT get the same treatment under the Maloney bill. Is this an oversight? Is it careless drafting? Is it deliberate?
Technical analysis (of interest to few people) follows:
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Introduction and purpose …
On March 18, 2010, President Obama signed FATCA (“Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act”) into law. FATCA was:
– a revenue offset provision to the HIRE Act
– a series of conforming amendments to the Internal Revenue Code that:
(a) imposed requirements on Foreign Banks (Internal Revenue Code Sections 1471 – 1474); and
(b) imposed reporting requirements on individuals (Internal Revenue Code 6038D). Those reporting requirements are expressed in Form 8938.
On September 17, 2019 Representative Maloney introduced H.R. 4362 – “Overseas Americans Financial Access Act” – which introduced changes to BOTH the FATCA requirements imposed on Foreign Banks and requirements imposed on Individuals.
This post discusses ONLY the aspect to the Maloney bill that “relaxes” the requirements on Foreign Banks. I have writen a separate post discussing how the Maloney bill would impact individuals.
(Those interested in learning more about FATCA may be interested in my “Little Red FATCA Book)“.
The Maloney Bill is NOT The Same As SCE Previously Drafted!
The Good News:
The Maloney bill appears to apply to ALL Americans abroad – without regard to whether they are compliant with their U.S. tax filing requirements. (A previous version of SCE applied ONLY to Americans abroad who were compliant with their U.S. tax filing requirements.) Interestingly, the Bill (like Internal Revenue Code 911) would NOT apply to “permanent residents (Green Card Holders) in exactly the same way.
The Bad News:
The bill as drafted gives the banks the option to either continue to report on the depository accounts of Americans abroad or not. This is an option available to the bank. I (along with many others) suggest that banks will NOT be willing to engage with individuals with respect to whether they meet the requirements of the Maloney bill. The exact language of the bill includes:
(i) IN GENERAL.—Unless the foreign financial institution elects to not have this subparagraph apply, such term shall not include any depository account maintained by such financial institution if each holder of such account is—
The Maloney bill is too narrow in application
The bill as drafted applies ONLY to “depository accounts”. This means that the bill applies only to day-to-day bank accounts. It specifically does NOT apply to “custodial accounts”. This means that it excludes investment accounts, brokerage accounts, etc.
Verdict: The Maloney bill is clearly far too narrow. There is no reason why the Maloney proposal should not extend to ALL accounts (depository, custodial or any other kind of account) held by an American living outside the United States.
The technical analysis (which will NOT be of interest to the average reader) follows. It consists of Part A to Part D.
Thoughts and Suggestion
The Maloney bill is symbolic. It is not a serious attempt to alleviate the problems of Americans abroad. Representative Maloney should – as a Democrat – support Representative Holding’s “Tax Fairness For Americans Abroad Act of 2018”.
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