Last week, Congress published H.Rept. 624 on the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill (H.R. 5485). One paragraph in the report shows a slight concern for our issues. CTRL+F for “Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act”, or see p. 26 of the PDF:
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.—No later than 180 days after enactment of this Act, the Department of the Treasury shall submit a report to the Committees of Appropriations of the House and Senate on its decision (TD 9610 (78 FR 5874)) and TD 9657 (79 FR 12811)) to require withholding on non-cash value insurance premiums, including payments by foreign insurance brokers. No later than 180 days after enactment of this Act, the Committee directs the Government Accountability Office to determine the impacts of FATCA on United States citizens living abroad and make recommendations on FATCA implementation.
The Appropriations Committee could have done much more than this, such as prohibiting any of the appropriated funds from being used to implement FATCA. (Indeed, they did prohibit the funds from being used for far higher-profile Homeland causes célèbres, such as determination of tax-exempt status of non-profit organisations.) On the other hand, at least it’s a bit of progress from House Republicans’ earlier inattention to the issues of U.S. persons in other countries, such as last year when they voted nearly-unanimously to blow a giant hole in their own budget and repeal the estate tax while leaving the estate-tax-backstop § 2801 in place — which would have given Homelanders who leave $15 million or $15 billion to their kids a lower tax rate than emigrants who leave $15,000 to their kids.
If the executive branch’s past attitude towards deadlines is any guide, it will take far longer than 180 days for this report to get written. In June 2014, for example, the Senate Appropriations Committee directed DHS to report within 90 days on their efforts to implement the Reed Amendment. DHS’ report, discussed here at Brock, was finally published 350 days after the passage of the relevant bill.
And of course, when the report finally does come out, it will consist entirely of boilerplate lies about how FATCA doesn’t have any negative impacts on United States citizens living abroad (and even if it does it’s your own fault not the government’s fault, and even if it is the government’s fault it’s justified because of “tax evasion”, and even if the alleged individual international tax gap is utterly miniscule compared to the domestic tax gap the United States must do something and FATCA is something therefore it’s a Good Thing).
This is not a development that should cause any Brock readers to change their good plans. If you were planning to go get a CLN, keep that appointment at the consulate — it’s absurdly hard to get another one. If you were planning to continue your ordinary law-abiding life outside of the United States without obtaining a CLN, keep on keeping on. But if you think you’re U.S. tax compliant and have nothing to worry about, well, you’re lying to yourself — and even after this useless report comes out, you’ll still be lying to yourself.
Thank you for posting this, Eric. As you say, it probably doesn’t mean a whole lot, but at least our issue has been acknowledged. It’s amazing that you found it amongst the verbiage of this Report!
I should mention that clicking on your link that says “p. 26” took me to p. 22 of the Report where your quote appears as the last paragraph.
Thanks again for your efforts, as always!
If past behaviour is any indication of future, yes, there’s not much cause for optimism here. Thanks for finding it, Eric – for what it is.
This is not a recent article, but a journalist from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is looking for help in determining just who is renouncing US citizenship. The entire article is here:
She asks, “Who are the people who have made the choice to renounce citizenship or give up permanent residence status? Are they “fat cats” or ordinary Americans, living abroad for employment or family reasons? It’s hard to know, because the lists of expatriations published quarterly in the Federal Register reveals just the names, without location or other identifying information.
I’ve pulled together all the names in the quarterly reports since December 2004 into a spreadsheet here:
If you’re interested in helping us figure out who’s moving out, take a look at the 9,242 names. If you can identify individuals and their occupations, send an e-mail and I’ll add to our research. If you find a good story, please let us know!”
Margot Williams is ICIJ’s research editor. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorry to sidetrack your post, Eric. Apparently I’ve been asleep at the wheel:
@Bubblebustin When I read about ICIJ, my immediate thought is to Michael Crichton’s “Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect:”
“Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all.
But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.”
For me, I have personal knowledge of on “Panama Papers” case and I’ve seen the hatchet job handiwork of one of the ICIJ’s hacks. And yep. They got it exactly backwards.
Writing a compelling story, which is what journalism aspired to do, requires an evil mastermind that must be overcome. Yet, Evil Masterminds are a bit clever at hiding, camouflage, misdirection and obfuscation. That is why the first evil person stumbled upon probably isn’t.
Whatever the truth is about the Panama Papers, or even whatever the hell it means, I am convinced ICIJ will only have, at best, a tertiary, incidental relationship with it. The whole thing, in fact, seems like a fraud.
@Anthony E. Parent, Esq, thank you for bringing the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect to our attention. I experienced it in the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement when I was interviewed by a newspaper and totally misquoted. I disagree, however, that amnesia is the right explanation. I think many of us realize that a lot of news reports and opinion pieces are full of errors, but since such articles are written by many different authors in many different media, we retain the hope that some are more accurate than others. Of course, it’s difficult to know which are the accurate ones. So I think we all assume that the ones we agree with or find most plausible are more accurate than the others. I think the word for that is delusion rather than amnesia.
Remember the game “Operator” from elementary school?
Or the modern version, sending a paragraph through Google[*] Translate from one language to another to another to another to another and finally back to its original language, and trying to see if any part of the result resembles the original?
So there’s nothing unique about the power of journalists. It’s just more efficient because the information only has to traverse one point of corruption. Lawyers have the same power (even though Mr. Parent likely avoids using that power, he surely knows it’s available). Judges have the same power (as Mr. Parent has surely seen).
[* Not Google’s fault of course. It’s just that by our age, Google is easier to access than elementary school.]
“I’ve pulled together all the names in the quarterly reports since December 2004 into a spreadsheet here:
If you’re interested in helping us figure out who’s moving out, take a look at the 9,242 names.”
Oops. If you’re really really interested in figuring out who’s moving out, take a look at names which don’t appear in the list.
Thank you for making that list. It’s easier to search there than all the individual corrupt Federal Register lists. If it weren’t for other postings on this site discussing corruption in those lists, I’d wonder why I’m not listed.
@ Anthony E. Parent, Esq
Thank you for putting ICIJ into the proper perspective. You can also apply the useful tool called “Follow the Money” to this group. That trail leads right to George Soros, meddler extraordinaire in the affairs of formerly sovereign nations and the minds of the worldwide masses. (I’ve heard this referred to as the “Soros Syndrome”.) I’m pleased to read about the “Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” because it puts into words the thoughts I have about the media which I’ve come to regard as a dubious source of the truth.
OK, I found the reason the Federal Register can’t keep up with events.
The gummint isn’t the least bit concerned about the travails of accidentals or duals. This tiny titbit refers to Americans overseas complaining they can’t get banking services. Talk about clutching at straws.
I believe the public’s interest in the Panama Papers will shrink in direct proportion to the ICIJ’s inability to produce a significant number offshore tax evaders as a result of the PP. ICIJ’s credibility may just be determined by how well they can keep people from learning the difference between tax “evasion” and tax “avoidance”.
Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.
Huh. It was nice to see Mr. Parent post here. I felt sufficiently encouraged to post a few comments on his firm’s blog. First his colleague approved two of my comments and replied that I shouldn’t worry about speaking frankly because his colleague has a tough skin. I posted a few more details of IRS corruption — and the fact that as much as I value reading their blog, “minnows” can’t afford to hire them, so some of us “minnows” continue to act pro se. His colleague deleted my comments, including the two originally approved.
It is a shame that even the few rare “good guys” in this industry decide their “goodness” can’t extend far enough to allow discussions by victims of IRS corruption. Maybe IBS is the only henhouse that isn’t guarded by a fox.