U.S. Congress will have chance to discard law targeting expats

Rand Paul

A U.S. senator from Kentucky has introduced legislation to eliminate aspects of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. That is the U.S. law that is causing so many problems for expats and sometimes freezing them out of the local banking system.

The senator is Rand Paul, son of three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Meanwhile, two congressional leaders have set up a Web page and a Twitter account to give taxpayers a voice in reforming the U.S. code. They are House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat. The Web site is taxreform.gov. The Twitter contact is @simplertaxes.

The Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means Committees have held more than 50 hearings combined, examining every aspect of tax reform, as A.M. Costa Ricahas reported. These hearings have drilled down to consider issues like how the tax code affects families, how it distorts businesses’ decisions and hampers growth, and how it influences the nation’s financial system, the tax Web site notes. In March, the Ways and Means Committee called for comments from citizens on the subject of tax reform, with a deadline for submissions of April 16.

American Citizens Abroad asked members and supporters to write to the committee’s Tax Reform Working Groups requesting a change to the tax treatment of Americans living and working overseas.  American Citizens Abroad is a citizens’ advocacy group representing the four to seven million U.S. citizens living outside of the United States, it noted in a release. The organization supports a residence-based system in place of the system that requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens everywhere to pay taxes on their income.

American Citizens Abroad said it believes that basing U.S. taxation on residence rather than on citizenship would help keep overseas Americans competitive, allowing them to create jobs for companies and factories state-side through increased exports.

The expat advocacy organization said it was pleased to see that legislators in Washington are becoming aware of the very damaging and destructive Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, known as FATCA, passed in 2010. American Citizens Abroad said it fully supports the U.S. government’s efforts to combat tax evasion. However, the organization said it believes that the FATCA legislation has gone too far and elements of the legislation are seriously damaging the U.S. economy and the lives of Americans working overseas.

Paul, in a press release, said his bill would repeal anti-privacy provisions of FATCA and put an end to a defective bill that does not accomplish its objective of ending tax evasion.

FATCA infringes upon basic constitutional rights, he said, for under FATCA, private data of anyone considered a U.S. person would have details of their financial assets provided to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service without a warrant requirement, suspicious activity report, or any allegation of wrongdoing at all.

Stated in its simplest form, he said, FATCA would require every non-American financial institution, such as banks, credit unions, pension funds, stock and investment firms, etc., to register directly with the IRS and agree to provide specified financial data on the accounts of any U.S. person.

Perhaps even more troubling, he said the implementation of FATCA has allowed the Treasury Department to make independent decisions with respect to the sovereignty of foreign nations and the privacy of United States citizens. In order to implement this law, Treasury has initiated intergovernmental agreements, citing the intent to engage in reciprocal information sharing with other nations, he noted. In other words, the Treasury Department, without the consent and authority of Congress, will force U.S. financial institutions to provide the bank account information of private customers to foreign nations, he said.

That procedure is advancing in Costa Rica so that U.S. tax investigators will be able to get information of any bank account associated with a U.S. citizen here, including those of corporations in which some shareholders are U.S. citizens.

Paul, known for his Libertarian views, said “FATCA’s harmful impacts cover the spectrum. It is a violation of Americans’ constitutional protections, oversteps the limits of executive power, disregards the mutual respect of sovereignty among nations and drains money from the federal treasury under the guise of replenishing it, and discourages overseas investment in the United States.”

Paul, like his father, is a medical professional. Rand Paul is an eye surgeon. He also is a likely candidate for the Republican Party nomination for president in the 2016 elections.

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