26/10/20

US: ‘Accidentals’ unable to renounce citizenship amid covid-19.

As published on international-adviser.com, Friday 23 October, 2020.

The Association of Accidental Americans (AAA) has written to the US ambassador in France, Jamie McCourt, to express anger that they have not been able to access citizenship renunciation services in the last seven months.

‘Accidental’ Americans are people who acquired US citizenship either by being born in the country, or by having a parent who is a US citizen.

Many accidentals have turned to renouncing their American citizenship to get away from the remit of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca), which requires them and their foreign financial institutions to report personal data to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and pay tax in the US on their foreign income.

Fabien Lehagre, president of the AAA, told McCourt, that the renunciation services and the Federal Benefits Units have been closed for the last seven months “allegedly because of the covid-19 pandemic”.

“This is totally incomprehensible,” he said, “because all the other services of your embassy have remained open. So, I would urge you to re-open without delay the renunciation services in Paris and the Federal Benefits Unit.”

The application service in the UK has also been shut because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Accidentals are increasingly waiving their US citizenship to not be affected by Fatca.

Also, many foreign financial institutions have been turning away US citizens, as they either don’t want or don’t have the capabilities to report to the IRS.

Many, like Dutch American citizen Ronal Aries who was born in the US but lived in the Netherlands his whole life, are having their bank accounts closed with no hope of opening a different one.

This impacts not only their daily financial lives but also their retirement as they won’t have an account where their pension can be transferred in to.

Lehagre told International Adviser: “The US has adopted an extraterritorial law that obliges French banks to ask French citizens born on American soil for either a Social Security Number (SSN) or a certificate of renunciation of American nationality.

“The services of the American embassy in Paris have been closed for more than seven months. Thousands of French citizens are blocked and can no longer open an account, take out a mortgage, or make investments because they cannot renounce American citizenship or obtain an SSN.

“This is just unacceptable, and it shows [it is] high time the United States admits that Fatca must be repealed.

“Accidental Americans living in France are afraid to find themselves in the same situation as [Aries] who will soon be expelled from his bank because he could not provide an SSN and a certificate of loss of nationality.”

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