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Chasing down the fat cats

In 2010, the US Congress adopted a piece of legislation called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) to fight offshore tax evasion by its own citizens. The acronym seems a wry nod to President Barack Obama’s frequent denunciations of “fat cats” who salt their untaxed wealth away in offshore accounts.

Under this new legislation, Washington is demanding that all foreign financial institutions (banks, life insurance companies, investment funds, foundations), including even those not operating in the US, give up names and data of all their customers who are subject to American tax.

This means all American citizens or non-nationals resident in the US, American expatriates, and foreigners with significant holdings in the US.

All financial institutions abroad are required to register with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to enter into an agreement by which they undertake to identify customers subject to American tax and give their names and bank data to the IRS.