The vice-president of Samsung Family Office wrote an article in the Korea Economic Daily a couple of weeks ago discussing the effects of FATCA. Samsung Family Office is a division of Samsung Life Insurance which markets products and services to customers with more than three billion won in assets — that is to say, people who would be “covered expatriates” if they are U.S. Persons. Of interest: his report that South Korea’s legislature is already considering amendments to tax laws in order to pave the way for an inter-governmental agreement.
|해외금융사 2013년부터 美영주권자 자산 IRS 보고해야||Overseas financial institutions must report green card holders’ assets to the IRS beginning in 2013|
|입력: 2012-08-26 14:45
수정: 2012-08-26 14:45
|Published: 26 August 2012, 14:45
Updated: 26 August 2012, 14:45
|국내에 거주하고 있는 미국 영주권자 사이에 내년부터 시행될 FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act)에 대한 관심이 커지고 있다. 이들은 주로 △내년부터 한국 등 해외 금융자산 정보가 미 국세청(IRS)에 보고된다는데 사실인지 △그렇게 되면 어떤 파급효과가 있을지등에 대해 궁금해하고 있다. 상당수 미국 영주권자들이 한국에도 자산을 보유하고 있어 새 제도 시행이 어떤 영향을 줄지 주시하는 것이다.||Among U.S. greencard holders living in [South Korea], there is a lot of concern about FATCA (the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) which will be implemented next year. They are anxious, among other things, about whether it is true that information about their financial assets in South Korea and other countries will be reported to the IRS from next year, and if so what kind of ripple effects this will have. A considerable number of U.S. green card holders maintain assets in South Korea, and they are paying close attention to how they will be affected by the new system|
As mentioned previously here on Isaac Brock, green card holders are doing much more than “paying close attention”. Many of them are giving up their green cards entirely. In 2011, according to South Korean government statistics 2,158 South Koreans gave up U.S. green cards or citizenship. This of course is greater than the number of names of all nationalities in the U.S.’ Federal Register list for that entire year.
Throughout this entire piece the author fails to make it clear that these measures will not only affect green card holders in the U.S., but U.S. citizens in South Korea — both expatriates from the U.S., as well as emigrants who have returned home for retirement but are retaining their U.S. passports (for example because they think there will be consequences for their Social Security payments if they renounce).
|FATCA를 따져보려면 탄생 배경부터 살펴보는 게 좋겠다. FATCA는 여러 이유가 있겠지만 미국 정부의 재정 악화를 해결하기 위한 방편으로 시작됐다. 미국은 FATCA를 통해 전 세계에 퍼져 있는 자국민의 소득을 제대로 파악하겠다는 의도다.||To understand FATCA more clearly, it’s best to look at the background in which it was born. There are various reasons for FATCA, but it was begun as a measure to address the U.S. government’s deteriorating finances. Through FATCA, the U.S. will attempt to get its hands on the income of its own citizens who are spread all over the world.|
|미국에는 이미 해외 소득을 확인하기 위한 FBAR(Foreign Bank Accounts Report)라는 제도가 있다. 1년 중 하루라도 해외에 1만달러를 초과하는 금융자산을 가진 경우 다음해 6월 말까지 미국 재무부에 그 정보를 신고하도록 하는 제도다. 만약 미신고하면 계좌 최대 잔액의 50%까지 벌금을 부과할 수 있다. 하지만 이 제도는 납세자의 자발적 신고에 의존해야 하는 한계가 있다. 그래서 미국 정부가 구속력이 강한 FATCA를 시행하려는 것이다.||The U.S. already has a system for verifying overseas income, known as the FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report). In this system, if within a year even for one day you have overseas financial assets exceeding US$10,000, by June of the following year you must declare information about them to the U.S. Treasury. If you do not make the declaration, it is possible you could be fined as much as 50% of the account’s highest balance. However, this system is limited in that it depends entirely on voluntary reporting by the taxpayer. Due to that, the U.S. government is implementing FATCA, which will give it stronger powers.|
This of course is an inaccurate description; if the FBAR system “depend[ed] entirely on voluntary reporting” there’d be no opportunity for the IRS to assess fines. In fact as has been seen clearly in the past two years, the IRS will use all sorts of channels to obtain information about accounts in other countries. That said, at least going into the OVDI is still a voluntary decision, though it certainly may not feel that way when the IRS is trying to terrorise you with threatened fines of 300% of your assets (not 50% as stated above — since the penalty can be applied for multiple years).
|FATCA의 세부 내용은 복잡하지만 기본 개념은 단순하다. 해외 금융회사가 보유 중인 미국인의 금융정보를 IRS에 보고하든지, 또는 해당 금융회사가 미국 내 자산 투자 때 30% 원천징수를 당하든지 선택하라는 것이다.||The details of FATCA are complicated, but the basic concept is simple. Overseas financial institutions must make a choice between reporting Americans’ financial information to the IRS or having a 30% punitive withholding tax imposed on their investments in assets in the U.S.|
|현재 한·미 조세조약에 따라 낮은 세율(이자소득 12%)로 원천징수되고 있다는 점과 국제적인 공조 상황을 볼 때 한국 내 미국인의 금융정보가 IRS에 보고될 수밖에 없는 상황이다.||At present under the South Korea–U.S. tax treaty there is a reduced rate of tax (12% of profits) withheld and [provisions for] international mutual assistance, so there’s no way that reporting of financial information of Americans in South Korea to the IRS can be avoided.|
I have no idea how the second part of his sentence follows from the first, or how it fits with the following paragraph. South Korea has quite a bit of choice in this matter, but of course the author is speaking on behalf of a financial institution, so he’d like to make it sound inevitable, in order to avoid any awkward questions from customers about why his company isn’t doing more to resist it, or whether other financial institutions besides the one he works for might not have to report their customers (such as those banks qualifying for the “local FFI exception”).
Right now under South Korean law, Article 4 of the Real Name Financial Transactions and Protection of Secrecy Act imposes various restrictions on the transfer of personally-identifiable data regarding financial transactions. South Korea and the U.S. set up a Simultaneous Criminal Investigation Program two years ago, which allows for exchange of some tax information, but not for fishing expeditions nor for indiscriminate exchange as in the case of FATCA.
|현재 국내 금융회사가 IRS에 보고하는 것은 금융실명제 등의 문제가 있다. 따라서 우리 국세청에 제공된 금융정보를 IRS와 교환하는 방식으로 추진하고 있다. 최근 발표된 세제 개편안에는 이와 관련한 법적 근거가 담겨 있다.||At present, there are various problems with domestic financial institutions reporting information to the IRS, such as the Real-Name Financial Transaction System. Due to this, [they] are pushing for a system whereby financial information will be provided to our National Tax Service, which will then exchange it with the IRS. Recently-proposed tax law amendments contain the legal grounds for this.|
|FATCA 때문에 미국 국적을 포기하겠다는 사람도 있다. 하지만 쉬운 문제는 아니다. 국적포기세라는 세금이 있어서다. 미국은 국적을 포기할 때 원칙적으로 전 세계 재산을 양도했다고 봐서 세금을 부과하고 있다.||There are also people who are giving up U.S. citizenship due to FATCA. However, this is not a simple matter. There is also a tax for this, known as the expatriation tax. The principle is that the U.S. looks at all your assets worldwide at the time of loss of citizenship, and imposes a tax as if they had been sold.|
|세무 상담을 하다보면 막연히 불안해하는 경우를 보게 된다. 제도 자체를 모르는 것이 더 큰 문제다. 미국 영주권자들은 사전에 전문가 조언을 받아 점검해볼 필요가 있다.||Even with tax advice, there are still cases of vagueness and uncertainty. An even larger problem is that the system itself is not well-understood. It’s necessary for U.S. green card holders to obtain professional advice and consider carefully in advance.|
|강형원 < 삼성패밀리오피스 차장 >||Kang Hyung-won, Samsung Family Office Vice-President|
Samsung itself, due to it’s massive economic footprint in South Korea, has quite a bit of influence over Seoul’s response to FATCA. From this article — which was no doubt approved by their PR department before being printed — it seems clear that they are part of the faction who have decided that there is no hope at all to fight FATCA and so are proceeding lobby their government to surrender to it as quickly as possible and dump all the harms and costs on the public at large. That means, of course, the same thing we saw in the Netherlands — the executive branch attempting to ram through amendments to privacy laws on behalf of the banks, rather than those banks respecting existing contract provisions and privacy laws which would require them to get consent from account-holders before transferring personal information to foreign governments with extremely poor data protection practises.