Thursday, August 4, 2011

new french tax on foreigners - UPDATE!!

This is from the Parler Reader newsletter which I receive from Adrian Leeds

Dear Parler Paris Reader 

I was very happy to be informed by one of our readers of an article in the Huffington Post from this past week (as reported by Bloomberg News) about the opposition to the Capital Controls Act. The headline: "While Prosecutors Nail Banks Over Offshore Tax Abuses, Lobbyists Push To Delay New IRS Rules."

This comes after the seminar we held this past May when U.S. attorney Joel Nagel and Belize bank president Peter Zipper spoke about the Act that had been voted on in March of 2010 as part of the HIRE Act that could seriously affect overseas investors and residents. The Act requires receiving banks to withhold 30% of transfers of over $50,000 from U.S. bank sources until proven that the money has complied with U.S. taxation as of January 1, 2013.

We all know that the goal is to reduce tax evasion and save the U.S. government $100 billion of lost revenues, but lobbyists are giving the decision to begin the enforcement of the law a run for its money. Thanks to the opposition, the IRS is delaying the reporting rule to January 1, 2014, as bank officials warn that the requirement "would turn U.S. citizens into 'pariahs.'"

We've already seen evidence of this here in France now that BNP Paribas is no longer giving mortgages to U.S. citizens. We fear this to be a result of the new inflated costs to manage a U.S. customer, and luckily other lenders have not yet given up on us. The article goes on to say that the longer it gets delayed, the more likely it is to weaken.

When you're living outside the U.S., life takes on a different perspective. It's easy for those who haven't left U.S. soil to point their fingers at those of us living here as "traitors," not simply as "expats" or "expatriates."

What comes to mind is that old expression: "Love it or leave it." Some people have even asked me if I've given up my U.S. citizenship -- as if I might want to or would have to. Little do they know that most Americans are pretty proud of their national roots and duel citizenship is very much accepted.

"According to the U.S. Department of State, there was a substantial rise in the number of American-born expatriates since 1990, from about 1.5 million to 4.5 million in 2005, to eventually grow to about 6 to 8 million by 2009. Most of the expatriates are retired and live on social security benefits, others are employed in international business, and some have strong unfavorable political views on American government." (

So why is that? Does this mean that many leave for a higher standard of living on a meager social security income? Or that there's a real advantage to doing business internationally? Or that they just wanted more social benefits than the Bush (or other) administration wasn't willing to give (like healthcare, quality education, job security, etc.)?

Here in France, there are certainly many expats who fit these descriptions, but there are so many other reasons for being 'here' rather than 'there'...most of which have nothing to do with what's right or wrong with 'there.'

From the expats I have come to know over the years, and even for myself, it wasn't about 'leaving' the good ol' U.S. of A. -- it was about 'coming' to something new, different and discovering a broader lifestyle. For so many of us, it was just the lure and addiction to Paris. So, there's no reason to want to denounce our American heritage and even more reason to hold onto it.

While we celebrated France's Revolution on July 14th, we also celebrated our own independence from Great Britain on July 4th, 1776. With it we celebrated our own personal independence from where we choose to live...and that should include our right to choose where we house our assets -- our properties, our money and even our friends. Most importantly, we should have the right to freedom of thought.

It is to that, freedom of thought, I celebrate most.

To read the article in it's entirety, click here.

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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