The member states of the European Union must work together to raise the problems surrounding ‘unintentional Americans’ with the United States. That is what MP Helma Lodders (VVD) and MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld (D66) say.
They respond with that on the news from NRC Friday that dozens of Dutch citizens who are also unintentionally American, will lose their bank account this autumn. This is the result of very strict US tax legislation, the Foreign Assets Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), and agreements about its enforcement with the Dutch government.
Unintentional Americans are citizens who, for example, an American parent or an accidental birth in the US, are automatically considered American by the US government. It is estimated that there are about half a million “unintentional Americans” across the EU; in the Netherlands there are an estimated 46,000.
The US automatically sees these people as taxable, while they already pay taxes in the country where they live. Due to the agreements between the US and the Netherlands, banks are obliged to pass on the data of unintentional Americans. Other European countries have made the same agreements.
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“There are only two countries with the system where tax is levied on the basis of citizenship, instead of on the basis of where people live,” says In ‘t Veld: Besides the US, Eritrea. “We would scream murder if Eritrea behaved like the US does. But for the US, member states are rolling out the red carpet, and we are asking them how we can help them implement it. ”
The unintentional Americans who cooperate can receive a hefty levy on, for example, investments and pension money from the American tax authorities. The group that is now losing their account refuses to cooperate. Banks say they should close the bank account of this group, otherwise they will receive sanctions from the US government, such as fines and exclusion from financial markets.
According to the banking umbrella organization NVB, the government gives the impression that they have not properly overseen the consequences of FATCA and the bilateral agreement. De Volksbank, one of the banks that will soon close a customer, stated in an earlier response that European banks cannot do otherwise. “The governments and the European Union are currently not doing enough to protect banks against the possible consequences if the US proceeds to enforce it.”
According to In ‘t Veld, it is a major problem that the European member states want to negotiate the exceptions for the unintended Americans themselves, and do not want to give a mandate to the European Commission on this. “The Member States are being blown over by the US. And as a result, these people, as well as the benches, are trapped between the US, acting like the schoolyard bully, and the European member states, who meekly follow. Different laws always apply to the US. “
Lodders, who says he is very frustrated by the issue, believes that the Dutch government, in addition to moving towards the US in a European context, should arrange as soon as possible to allow the unintended Americans to take their account. In the next question time in the House, she wants to put Minister Wopke Hoekstra (CDA) to the test. “After all, what do you do in the Netherlands without a bank account? You can no longer go shopping, pay insurance, and receive no pension. ”
According to the VVD MP, the government must also come to the aid of the banks. “If the government continues to insist that banks will not receive sanctions from the Americans, then the government must also bear the consequences if they do come.”