Category Archives: offshore tax evasion

False Form 8854 used as part of “willful” #FBAR prosecution

The primary story is of a U.S. professor who pleaded guilty to an FBAR violation and was subjected to a 100 million FBAR penalty.  Notably the “tax loss” was 10 million dollars and the FBAR penalty was 100 million dollars. It appears that Mr. FBAR is becoming an important tool in the arsenal used by the United States Treasury.

The more interesting (for the purposes of expatriation) was the role that a “false Form 8854 “Expatriation Statement”) may have played in the guilty plea.

The story has been reported at the following two sources:

and on Jack Townsend’s blog

What is most  interesting is the description from the Department of Justice site which includes:

Horsky directed the activities in his Horsky Holdings and other accounts maintained at the Zurich-based bank, despite the fact that it was readily apparent, in communications with employees of the bank, that Horsky was a resident of the United States.  Bank representatives routinely sent emails to Horsky recognizing that he was residing in the United States.  Beginning in at least 2011, Horsky caused another individual to have signature authority over his Zurich-based bank accounts, and this individual assumed the responsibility of providing instructions as to the management of the accounts at Horsky’s direction.  This arrangement was intended to conceal Horsky’s interest in and control over these accounts from the IRS. 

In 2013, the individual who had nominal control over Horsky’s accounts at the Zurich-based bank conspired with Horsky to relinquish the individual’s U.S. citizenship, in part to ensure that Horsky’s control of the offshore accounts would not be reported to the IRS.  In 2014, this individual filed with the IRS a false Form 8854 (Initial Annual Expatriation Statement) that failed to disclose his net worth on the date of expatriation, failed to disclose his ownership of foreign assets, and falsely certified under penalties of perjury that he was in compliance with his tax obligations for the five preceding tax years.

Horsky also willfully filed false 2008 through 2014 individual income tax returns which failed to disclose his income from, and beneficial interest in and control over, his Zurich-based bank accounts.  Horsky agreed that for purposes of sentencing, his criminal conduct resulted in a tax loss of at least $10 million.  In addition, Horsky failed to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBARs) up and through 2011, and also filed false FBARs for 2012 and 2013.

The point is that the false Form 8854 (used primarily to provide information about whether one is a “covered expatriate” and to calculate the Exit Tax) was used as evidence of part of a conspiracy to evade taxes. This is an interesting use of the Form 8854,  which is primarily an “information return”.

Obviously this a “general interest” post with extremely unusual circumstances. But, it is an example of how associations with others, in the  “Wide and Wonderful World of U.S. Tax Forms” can become a problem.

This is also a reminder the “information returns” DO matter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 17: What God Hath Wrought – The #FATCA Inquisition (Review, Identify and Report on “U.S. Persons”) – Retirement accounts are exempt from FATCA reporting in all cases

First, Canadian Retirement Accounts are “deemed to be compliant under S. 1471 and S. 1472 of the Internal Revenue Code

The Canada U.S. FATCA IGA …

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IGA Article IV describes the “Specific Treatment of Canadian Retirement Plans” as follows:

3. Specific Treatment of Canadian Retirement Plans. The United States shall treat as deemed-compliant FFIs or exempt beneficial owners, as appropriate, for purposes of sections 1471 and 1472 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, Canadian retirement plans identified in Annex II. For this purpose, a Canadian retirement plan includes an Entity established or located in, and regulated by, Canada, or a predetermined contractual or legal arrangement, operated to provide pension or retirement benefits or earn income for providing such benefits under the laws of Canada and regulated with respect to contributions, distributions, reporting, sponsorship, and taxation.

Second, because Canadian Retirement Accounts are NOT “financial accounts” as per Annex II of the IGA, they are NOT “reportable accounts” under the definitions section of Article I of the IGA

IGA Article I (definitions) includes …
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Part 14: What God Hath Wrought – The #FATCA Inquisition (Review, Identify and Report on “U.S. Persons”) – FATCA and the rise of @TaxHavenUSA

 

 

 

The USA as the world’s number one tax haven? Well, FATCA does play a role in making it harder for other countries to operate as tax havens. FATCA most certainly operates to assist the U.S. in preventing competition to the USA in the tax haven industry. As a recent article from the Tax Justice Network notes:

Bloomberg is running a story entitled The World’s Favorite New Tax Haven Is the United States, which closely follows the line that TJN has been taking, particularly since our big Loophole USA blog a year ago, and our subsequent USA Report for the Financial Secrecy Index last October.

Expanding on a quote we used in our USA report and in our more recent call for Europe to apply withholding taxes to counter the new global threat emanating from the United States, Bloomberg cites:

“How ironic—no, how perverse—that the USA, which has been so sanctimonious in its condemnation of Swiss banks, has become the banking secrecy jurisdiction du jour,” wrote Peter A. Cotorceanu, a lawyer at Anaford AG, a Zurich law firm, in a recent legal journal. “That ‘giant sucking sound’ you hear? It is the sound of money rushing to the USA.”

The article is a most useful contribution to the debate. It does quote people spouting the usual claptrap about confidentiality peddled by wealthy wealth-extractors, tax evaders and market riggers:

“Rokahr and other advisers said there is a legitimate need for secrecy. Confidential accounts that hide wealth, whether in the U.S., Switzerland, or elsewhere, protect against kidnappings or extortion in their owners’ home countries.”

You will find the article by Peter A. Cotorceanu here:

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See also my complete series: “Tax Haven or Tax Heaven” here.

 

 

Part 13: What God Hath Wrought – The #FATCA Inquisition (Review, Identify and Report on “U.S. Persons”) – Colonizing other nations by imposing US taxation on the world

Introduction – FATCA is really about extending the U.S. tax base into other nations …

In other words, FATCA is more about the “creation of taxable income” than it is about the “taxation of existing income”. This point was also made in my “Tax Haven or Tax Heaven Series“.

 

What follows is a comment that I tried to leave on the following blog post:

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Part 12: What God Hath Wrought – The #FATCA Inquisition (Review, Identify and Report on “U.S. Persons”) – Including US residents who are citizens of France and other nations!

Introduction – FATCA and U.S. residents

In Part 10 of this series of FATCA posts, I discussed the meaning of “U.S. Person”. The vast majority of people affected by FATCA are non-U.S. residents. That said, FATCA can affect U.S. residents who are citizens of other nations and have bank accounts in the United States. In some cases, the “due diligence” rules under the FATCA IGAs are making it difficult for citizens of other nations to keep access financial services (including bank accounts) in their country of citizenship. This topic is sure to gain more and more attention.

FATCA and Swiss citizens who are resident in Switzerland

 

FATCA and French citizens resident in the USA

 

The above tweet references a post at Frenchmorning.com which I was alerted on Keith Redmond’s AmericanExpatriates Facebook group. Although the post is in French you can get a rough translation with Google Translate*.

I was first alerted (in hindsight very obvious problem) by a French politician.

Here is the problem:

  1. FATCA forces French banks to hunt for customers with U.S. indicia.
  2. French citizen (and likely permanent resident of France) is living in the United States. He could be living in the United States under a number of different visas, including a “Green Card” (permanent resident visa). In addition, he might be a France/USA dual citizen.
  3. Because of a U.S. address or phone number, he washes up the shores of the “FATCA inquisition”.
  4. He is threatened with account closures and all the other disabilities that are common in Europe.
  5. He may not be able to pay his bills because of the FATCA related bank account problems.
  6. He may or may not be required to file U.S. taxes.
  7. If he is required to file U.S. taxes, he may or not be filing U.S. taxes.
  8. Either way he has a problem with his French bank.
  9. If he has a Green Card and attempts to move back to France, he may be subject to the S. 877A “Exit Tax”.
  10. Which is why the French Politician commented that “Many of our French citizens are currently “in prison in America”.

The time has come for Governments around the world to protect their citizens from the United States of America. Fortunately, France has recently taken the lead. To be specific: France has established an inquiry into how U.S. extra-territorial legislation affects the sovereignty of France.

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* Here is the current attempt by Google to translate the French article:
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Part 7: What God Hath Wrought – The #FATCA Inquisition (Review, Identify and Report on “U.S. Persons”) – Which country decides the nature of the “Entity”?

On May 13, 2014, Calgary lawyer Roy Berg appeared as a witness before the House Finance Committee in Ottawa. His testimony was in relation to Bill C – 31 AKA Canada’s FATCA implementation legislation which was called:

CANADA–UNITED STATES ENHANCED TAX INFORMATION EXCHANGE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT

This legislation was for the purpose of the Canadian Government complying with Canada’s FATCA obligations under the IGA. The text of the proposed laws is at the end of this post.*

I will let Mr. Berg’s testimony speak for itself. It is interesting in at least one significant respect. Mr. Berg’s testimony illuminates the problem when the U.S. and Canada define the same term in different ways. I remind you that under the Canada U.S. FATCA IGA, that each country is free to interpret the agreement. See for example S. 2 of Article I of the Canada U.S. IGA which reads as follows:

Any term not otherwise defined in this Agreement shall, unless the context otherwise requires or the Competent Authorities agree to a common meaning (as permitted by domestic law), have the meaning that it has at that time under the law of the Party applying this Agreement, any meaning under the applicable tax laws of that Party prevailing over a meaning given to the term under other laws of that Party.

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Note the problems created by definitions.

Mr. Berg’s testimony included:

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

My name is Roy Berg. I’m a U.S. tax lawyer with Moodys Gartner. I was born, raised, and educated in the U.S. I practised in the U.S. for 17 years in tax law before immigrating to Canada three years ago. Therefore, I think there are very few individuals who have more personally and professionally vested in this issue than I do.

On March 9, 2014 our office submitted extensive analysis and commentary to the Department of Finance regarding our concerns about the draft legislation, and on April 10 we submitted a brief on these concerns to the committee. I will be happy to elaborate on any of the materials we have submitted, as they’re quite detailed and quite specific.

Before I summarize our comments on the draft legislation, however, I want to emphasize that we do agree with the Minister of Finance that entering into the IGA with the U.S. was beneficial to Canada. Had Canada not entered into the IGA, Canadian financial institutions would have faced the unenviable dilemma of either complying with Canadian law and risking FATCA’s 30% withholding tax or complying with FATCA and risking violating Canadian law.

Unfortunately, as FATCA is drafted and the IGAs are designed, there is no middle ground. Those are simply the facts. Life under the IGA is better than life without the IGA. As Senator Patrick Moynihan of the U.S. said, “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts”.

The committee is likely going to be aware of rather jingoistic hyperbolic rhetoric admonishing Finance for ceding Canadian power, ceding sovereignty, and also encouraging Canada to stand up to FATCA. As the committee hears such comments, we encourage it to remember that FATCA is U.S. law, and the way it’s designed, it’s enforced not by the IRS, not by the Treasury, but by the markets themselves. In that, it is like a sales tax. The withholding obligation is on the person making the payments.

While the IGA is unquestionably beneficial to Canadians, the legislation before you requires refinement, specifically in the manner in which a financial institution is defined under the legislation. The definition is actually much more narrow in the legislation than in the IGA, the intergovernmental agreement.

The Department of Finance disagrees with that assertion. The Department of Finance believes that the definition of financial institution under the legislation is consistent with that in the IGA. However, in our briefs and in our submissions to Finance, we go through the legal analysis to support our position.

One thing I believe the Department of Finance does not disagree on is that the definition of financial institution is more narrow in the regulations and the implementing legislation of other FATCA partners. Therefore, the definition of financial institution for certain Canadian financial institutions will be different under Canadian domestic law from what it will be under U.S. domestic law, for example.

This difference will likely lead to unintended and unnecessary withholding of certain Canadian trusts that otherwise have no U.S. connections at all, for example, a spousal trust created at death, where the spouse, the beneficiaries, and the trustees have no U.S. connections whatsoever, and the only connection would be a U.S. bank account.

In that case, under Canadian domestic law, that trust would be defined as a non-financial foreign entity, whereas in the U.S., it will be defined as a foreign financial institution. Payments coming out of the U.S. to that Canadian trust will be subject to withholding, because under U.S. law, when there’s a discordance between the stated classification of the entity and the classification of the entity under U.S. law, there is mandatory withholding.

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*What follows is Part 5 of Canada’s Bill C-31The Canada–United States Enhanced Tax Information Exchange Agreement Implementation Act – the Bill which is the enabling legislation to implement the Canada U.S. FATCA IGA – signed by the Harper Government.

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Part 5: What God Hath Wrought – The #FATCA Inquisition (Review, Identify and Report on “U.S. Persons”) – The FATCA IGA and the “Entity Inquisition”

Introduction …

The difference between “Individual” and “Entity” accounts

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If you read Annex 1 of the IGA (starting on page 20) you will that it distinguishes between “Individual Accounts” (held by a living breathing individual person) and “Entity Accounts” (an account held NOT by an individual), but by something that is NOT an individual. An example of an “Entity” would be a corporation. An account held in the name of a corporation will NOT reveal who the shareholders are. As Robert Wood recently wrote:

A key element in many tax prosecutions is the use of shell entities and hidden names. Although celebrities have their own reasons to make their financial affairs opaque, some governments now want to infer tax avoidance. In that sense, secrecy itself is under attack. For example, the U.K. has moved to make company ownership entirely transparent. The topic of company ownership transparency is being discussed in Brussels too.

Nominee ownership used to be common. Nominees are straw-men listed as owners or directors of a company, but who are acting on behalf of someone else. This once common device is now often seen as a problem that triggers others. From Spanish and other authorities, the message has been a stern one. Whatever happens in Spain, secrecy and willfulness may be linked like never before.

To put it simply: in order to know who are the real owners of an “Entity” (for example corporations in Delaware, Nevada and South Dakota and other noted tax havens) one must take specific steps to learn who the real owners are. (Yes, one of the effects of FATCA is to protect the United States from competition in the “Tax Haven Industry”.)

Following the IGA …

Annex 1 of the IGA describes exactly what needs to be done to search for “USness” for both “individual” and “entity” accounts.

The rules are found as follows (you may want to keep the IGA in front of this while you read):

Pre-existing Individual Accounts – page 20
New Individual Accounts – page 26
Pre-existing Entity Accounts – page 28
New Entity Accounts – page 31

In the case of “Individual Accounts” the named individual is presumed to be the owner. In the case of “Entity Accounts” further inquiries must be made (“smoking them out”) to determine who the beneficial/real owners are.

When it comes to an “Entity Account”, the question is:

Q. Are or have the “real/beneficial” owners ever been U.S. persons?

A. Only the accountants, lawyers and shareholders know for sure.

These inquires are made by the bank, to a representative of the “Entity”. The representative of the “Entity” will respond by obtaining the requested information and THEN informing the bank.

The Worldwide “FATCA Rollout” began with “The Great Hunt For USness In Individual Accounts” search.

The Worldwide “FATCA Rollout” continues with the “The Great Hunt For USness In Entity Accounts” search. This will be a FAR MORE intrusive search than the search for individual accounts ever was. From the U.K. PTA, to the New Zealand law firm, to the Canadian Controlled Private Corporation ALL the world is now being asked to identify “USness” associated with its entities. A “U.S. Person” in Canada is far more likely to receive a “FATCA Letter” because he is associated with an “entity”, than because he is suspected of being a “U.S. Person”.

The “FATCA Entity Hunt” is such that, that ordinary people have been deputized to assist the United States in its relentless “Hunt” for “U.S. Persons”.

FATCA Inquisition Stage 1 – Review, Identify and Report – “Individual Accounts”

Canada Day 2014 – “FATCA Hunt” Officially Began …

On July 1, 2014 “FATCA Hunt” – the hunt for those with a U.S. birthplace officially began. “FATCA Hunt” is an important initiative in the 21st century. It was a small step for man, but a large step for mankind.

That said, the rollout is coming in different stages.

The focus has been on the possible U.S. status of the individual who was named on the account. The banks have been focusing their attention on the person whose name was on the account.

In the beginning, the banks, brokerage companies, financial managers and the rest of the Foreign Financial Institutions (“FFIs”) focused (and continue to) on their existing customer base of “Individual Accounts”. In addition, all those who opened new accounts were asked about their “U.S. status”. Most of the pain has been felt in relation to the “pre-existing accounts”. Large numbers of people have been forced to “Self-certify” that they are NOT “U.S. persons”. Canadians (with only a small number of exceptions) have not been subject to “account closures”. Canadians have been able (in contrast to their European counterparts) to retain access to bank accounts in general and their bank accounts in particular.

The situation in Europe has been different. There has been evidence of bank account closures. Their is evidence of banks that are unwilling to deal with “U.S. persons” (do you blame them?).

FATCA Inquisition Stage 2 – Review, Identify and Report on Entity Accounts – The search for the owners of “Entity Accounts” – Are they or have they ever been a U.S. person?

The focus is on the possible U.S. status of the individual, who is a beneficial owner, but who is NOT named on an Entity account. The bank is focusing its attention on the “Entity” whose name was on the account. The bank will require an individual who is the representative of the “Entity” to inform the bank of the “U.S. status” (or not) of the beneficial owner(s). To put it another way: In Stage 2 of the FATCA Inquisition, some Canadians are being asked to disclose any “U.S. person” ownership to the bank. This is a clear escalation of FATCA Hunt. Your business partners are now clearly part of the FATCA Inquisition.

You probably think that this is all an exaggeration …

What follows is a “FATCA Letter” from TD Waterhouse sent to the address on file for an “Entity Brokerage Account”. In other words, imagine that a corporation has a brokerage account. Imagine that the names of the shareholders are not in the file. It’s important for TD Waterhouse to know whether the beneficial owners are “U.S. persons”.

Take a moment to read this letter. Take a moment to read the forms (if you can understand it all). But, of above all else:

take note of the requirement to make inquiries about the possible “USness” of those associated with the entity.

FATCATDEntitySearch

Leaving aside its intent. Leaving aside its intrusiveness. Leaving aside the immorality of “Hunting” people based on the immutable characteristic of “place of birth”, consider the following question:

How could anybody even begin to understand this letter without the benefit of specialized counselling? It’s simply not possible. Therefore, the first thing one must do is bring the  “Entity Inquisition Letter” to an adviser. Expect to pay and expect to pay dearly.

What the adviser must determine is:

1. Does the beneficial ownership of the “Entity” include “U.S. Persons”. On this point I note that the definition of “U.S. person” is determined in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code. Note also that this is a “shifting definition”. That said, “Congress has spoken”.

2. What kind of “Entity” is it anyway? Is it an “FI” or a “NFFE”Remember that the U.S. Internal Revenue Code punishes: (1) all things foreign and (2) all things that involve deferral.

3. If the “Entity” is a “NFFE”, is it “active” or is it “passive”?

If it is either a “FI” or a “passive NFFE”, any U.S. beneficial owners MUST be reported. Those Canadians who use Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (which is one of the primary purposes of the CCPC) to accumulate earnings need to be particularly careful. The investment income in the corporation is reportable on your U.S. tax return

Think of it! It’s bad enough having the banks hunting for “U.S. persons”. The “FATCA Entity Inquisition” means that one group of Canadians will now hunt another group of Canadians to uncover those with a “U.S. place of birth”.

Note that the “FATCA Entity Letter” is sent regardless of whether THERE IS ANY REASON WHATSOEVER TO SUSPECT “USness”. The United States is requiring or reserving the right to make inquiries of ANY entity in the world:

Are you, or have you ever been or associated with a U.S. Person?

It is just an example of the how the United States of American is hunting the world for “U.S. persons”.

The FATCA Entity Inquisition is NOT being carried on directly by governments. The FATCA Entity Inquisition IS being carried by one group of Canadians searching for another group of Canadians that happen to (for the most part) been born in the USA!

To put it simply:

In the new world order, “If you are a “U.S. Person”, you are reportable! You lost the “birth lottery”.

Now, that’s change you can believe in.

Part 4: What God Hath Wrought – The #FATCA Inquisition (Review, Identify and Report on “U.S. Persons”) – Imposing FATCA on the world in two steps

In previous posts I have described how the FATCA Inquisition has been used to determine whether the beneficial owners of various associations (PTA) small businesses (New Zealand law firms) are U.S. persons. I note that the great American FATCA Inquisition is being used to target the world. To put it simply:

All of the world is required to:

  1. Review their affairs for “U.S. Persons”
  2. Identify those “U.S. Persons” in their midst
  3. Report those “U.S. Persons” to the IRS.

Yes, the “RIR” objective really is that simple.

This post is somewhat more technical. In this post I am going to explain exactly how and why the Canada U.S. FATCA IGA requires that “U.S. Persons” be subjected to the “RIR Inquisition”. I will then show how the principle applies to U.S. “smoking them out” methodology which is the purpose of the IGA. But, first things first.

Implementing the objective – A two step process

Step 1 – Signing the IGA: Establishing the terms of the relationship between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States

The IGA provided the legal framework and objectives for the U.S. imposition of FATCA on Canada. It was signed on February 5, 2014. Under the IGA Canada agreed to assist the United States in its hunt for “U.S. persons”. The IGA is a broad agreement which provides the general rules for the relationship between Canada and the United States. A key provision of the IGA is that Canada will change it’s domestic laws to make the hunt for “U.S. persons” (as defined from time to time by the U.S. Internal Revenue Code) mandatory.

It is the IGA that provides the framework for “FATCA Hunt”. Those who have not read the Canada U.S. FATCA IGA can read it here.

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Step 2 – Establishing the terms of the relationship between the Government of Canada and it’s financial institutions – Canada changes it domestic laws to force Canadian banks to hunt for those with a U.S. place of birth

In May 2014 the Government of Stephen Harper added Part VIII to the Income Tax Act of Canada. In general terms, Part VIII of the Income Tax Act was to:

  1. Require Canadian Financial Institutions to search for both “Individual” and “Entity” U.S. accounts
  2. Require individuals and entities to disclose the “U.S.ness” of accounts to the Financial Institutions
  3. Authorize Canadian Financial Institutions to disclose “U.S. accounts” to the CRA
  4. Impose penalties on “Individuals” and “Entities” who refused to disclose the information requested by the financial institution

For example S. 162(6) of Canada’s Income tax reads:

Failure to provide identification number

(6) Every person or partnership who fails to provide on request their Social Insurance Number, their business number or their U.S. federal taxpayer identifying number to a person required under this Act or a regulation to make an information return requiring the number is liable to a penalty of $100 for each such failure, unless

  • (a) an application for the assignment of the number is made within 15 days (or, in the case of a U.S. federal taxpayer identifying number, 90 days) after the request was received; and

  • (b) the number is provided to the person who requested the number within 15 days after the person or partnership received it

To summarize – Part VIII of Canada’s Income Tax Act:

  • requires the banks to hunt for “Individuals” and “Entities” that are or are owned by “U.S. persons”; and
  • requires the “Individuals” and “Entities” to be captured. The “terms of their capture” require them to:

A. Answer all questions that are part of the “FATCA Inquisition”

B. Answer all questions truthfully

C. Either ADMIT to being a “U.S. person” or DENY being a “U.S. person”.

Once again, I remind you that the fact that someone is a Canadian citizen residing in Canada is NOT a defense to the accusation of being a “U.S. person.

How does Canada comply with Part VIII of the Income Tax Act of Canada? What are the “made in Canada” rules for  the FATCA Inquisition?

Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the Canada U.S. FATCA IGA allows (in general) for each country to interpret various provisions of the IGA. To be specific it reads:

2. Any term not otherwise defined in this Agreement shall, unless the context otherwise requires or the Competent Authorities agree to a common meaning (as permitted by domestic law), have the meaning that it has at that time under the law of the Party applying this Agreement, any meaning under the applicable tax laws of that Party prevailing over a meaning given to the term under other laws of that Party.

The Canada Revenue Agency created its own set of guidelines for precisely how the financial institutions are to implement the broader objectives of FATCA Hunt. Those guidelines are here.

FATCA Canada Guidance gdnc-eng

Never forget that the guidelines are made pursuant to the broad terms of the IGA. Canada’s domestic laws that are to assist the United States with the implementation of the IGA.

Summary: Understanding FATCA …

When in doubt about how to interpret the Canada’s domestic laws, one should look to the provisions of the IGA. As a reminder, here is the Canada U.S. IGA which was signed on February 5, 2014.

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Tax Haven or Tax Heaven 9: US Treasury Secretary Lew claims USA is a leader in information exchange!

What follows is Secretary Lew’s rather extraordinary statement. One gets the impression that he lives in a world where, the United States is simply a wise “sage” or perhaps “adviser”, for the rest of the world. In any event, the United States is (as demonstrated by Secretary Lew) clearly NOT required to live by the rules that it wishes to impose on other nations.

In fairness the following excerpt should be read in context. That said the Secretary included the following rather fantastic and incorrect claim – a clear distortion of reality:

“We fully support the call for all countries to automatically exchange financial account information.  The United States led the world in automatic exchange with the enactment of FATCA in 2010.”

What he means that he supports the call for countries other than the United States to provide financial account information to the United States.

As you know:

  1. By the express terms of the FATCA IGAs, the United States is NOT obligated to exchange FATCA  account information of significance with other nations. The exchange on the part of the USA is “aspirational” only.
  2. If there were exchange, the exchange would NOT include “identical information”. It would include “equivalent” information. Presumably “equivalent” information would NOT be identical information
  3. The United States has refused to embrace the OECD Common Reporting Standard.

Here is the Canada U.S. FATCA IGA:

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To understand why the FATCA IGA’s do NOT obligate the United States to exchange information of significance, read here.

What follows is Secretary Lew’s “statement” in its entirety.

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