Relief for “accidental Americans”. Forty thousand French bank accounts belonging to these American citizens who have spent only a short time in the United States will not be closed, as they risked being on January 1, 2020. Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy and finance, confirmed in a letter dated December 31 to Frédéric Oudea, president of the French Banking Federation.
The file is technical. Under the US FATCA tax evasion law, French banks are required to collect their Tax Identification Number (TIN) from their "accidental American" customers if they want to escape heavy financial penalties. Problem: providing this tax number was an impossible mission for these individuals born in the United States but who left it very early, without maintaining an effective link with the country. A compromise was therefore found: transmit their date of birth rather than the TIN. This exemption was due to expire on January 1, 2020, exposing customers to the possibility of account closure by their bank. The French Banking Federation estimated that 40,000 accounts were thus threatened.
After the mobilization of Bercy and European partners with the United States Treasury and the IRS, Washington therefore decided to extend this exemption. "TheThe IRS services will take consideration of the particular circumstances which led to this deficiency (of TIN, ndr), as well as the internal procedures put in place and the diligence carried out by the institutions to collect this information ”, specifies Bruno Le Maire in his letter. For the Minister, this decision is likely to “secure banking establishments and their customers against the risk of sanctions financial".
However, Bercy does not cry “victory” right away. He notes that the IRS decision “does not constitute a definitive response to the difficulties identified by financial institutions. It's here reason why the French authorities have since insisted within the European authorities so that this subject remains a point of vigilance and that additional guarantees may andre made ”.
Same caution with Fabien Lehagre, president of the Association of Accidental Americans (AAA): " A lasting solution must be found by France because the basic problem remains and it has only lasted too long. Getting this bank-requested number can be an obstacle course for some accidental Americans. It is therefore urgent that the Government initiates a real balance of power with the United States to find a solution ", He said in a statement.