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UK Finance responds to FATCA as Americans could be locked out of French Banking

The UK’s Banking Body responds to US reporting regulations as Laurent Mignon warns that 40,000 bank accounts connected with Americans in France could be closed

Published on August 15, 2019

Earlier in July, Laurent Mignon, the Chairman of the French Banking Federation (Federation Bancaire Francais), wrote to the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, outlining concerns that 40,000 bank accounts in France connected to US citizens and 'accidental' Americans could be forced into closure due to US FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) regulations.

FATCA regulations require banks to report bank accounts belonging to US Citizens to the US Treasury. As reported by French media TheLocal.fr, one difficulty has been the need to supply "the account holder's US tax number" because "many 'accidental Americans' have been previously unaware of their need to file a tax return in the US and therefore do not have a tax number." The report goes on to explain that "A short-term concession negotiated between France and the US means that French banks can - until December 31st 2019 - supply just the individual's date of birth if they do not have a US tax number ... But after this waiver expires, Laurent Mignon warns that French banks may face no choice but to close the accounts of all 'accidental Americans' - thought to be about 40,000 people."

In light of this warning, we at The American contacted UK Finance, the trade association for the UK Banking and Financial Services sector, for their comment on FATCA in light of these developments.

In response, a UK Finance spokesperson said: “The industry supports the European Banking Federation’s work with the European Commission and the US Treasury in this area and we continue to liaise with our members, HM Revenue & Customs, HM Treasury and the US Internal Revenue Service on this issue.”

Earlier this year, former UK Treasury Minister Mel Stride commented on FATCA by explaining that "UK Treasury officials continue to engage with their US counterparts regarding the situation of 'accidental' US citizens, and the requirement to report information on US citizens who are resident in the UK." In July 2018, the European Parliament also issued a resolution directed at FATCA. With conversations and discussions seemingly in full flow, the issue of FATCA seems to certainly still be, at least, on the table.

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