For those of us trying to make sense of FATCA and GATCA — the OECD CRS, this is a good read …
Sept. 23 — A bumpy path may lie ahead for crucial agreements to ease the process for foreign banks to report their U.S.-owned accounts under a controversial law—even as IRS pressure grows for countries to get their pacts in force quickly.
Some countries face legal challenges to agreements under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, while others may not be moving quickly. The lack of agreements in force is raising big concerns among global banks with operations in some jurisdictions that have fully functioning pacts and some that don’t.
The alternative—directly reporting individual accounts to the U.S. or potentially facing a 30 percent withholding tax—is a major concern for cross-border financial institutions as difficulties continue in countries that haven’t managed to get an IGA in legal force. According to Sept. 23 Treasury Department data, 113 countries have agreements, but 49 still need to reach the finish line.
Tax attorneys said the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s common reporting standard may be draining energy and legislative resources in some jurisdictions. The CRS is a separate multinational system designed to allow financial information exchange across many borders.
More than 100 countries have signed on for that exchange. The U.S. can’t fully adopt the CRS because of legal challenges. Some of those 100 countries have implemented CRS statutes before finalizing FATCA agreements.
Even if banks want to register for direct reporting, in many cases they still face the legal prohibitions that led to the creation of IGAs, she said. In another challenge, financial institutions that have already made huge efforts to document all their U.S. accounts under their agreements would have to redocument them to comply with FATCA, said Ferris, now a financial services principal with Ernst & Young LLP.