To its adherents (chiefly tax officials and government bureaucrats looking for ways to increase incoming revenues), it is winning legislation of the highest order.
To those who oppose it, though (a broad-based amalgam of business groups, legislators, privacy-rights advocates and taxpayers), it simply spells anathema, and needs to be eradicated without delay.
“It” is the federal statutory law commonly denoted in shorthand form as FATCA.
Those who know a great deal about FATCA also readily recognize it as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, hard-hitting legislation that was made law under the Obama administration.
FATCA fans note the law’s stated imperative: to catch, penalize and punish individuals and business entities that try to hide money in offshore accounts in order to avoid paying taxes that are owed to the IRS and tandem state organs.
Critics deride much — in fact, almost everything — about the law, noting an alleged overly aggressive role played by tax authorities and government probing that is clearly detrimental to privacy rights. They point to the alarming exodus of Americans who fear FATCA’s reach and objectives so much that they are giving up citizenship, and they additionally caution legislators that FATCA has a pernicious effect in dampening global foreign investment and cutting off Americans from valuable foreign funding.
And then there’s this: Although tax officials say that they are simply seeking to uncover tax evasion and other criminal tax-related acts, a growing band of citizen taxpayers counter that they are being ensnared for conduct that is arguably not illegal.
Many people note, too, that they have engaged in behavior pronounced illegal only unwittingly, and that FATCA’s pronounced complexity and ambiguity have put overseas taxpayer actions of every type under a cloud.
Their complaints resonate with many on Capitol Hill, where the Republican Party has made it an official platform plank to push for FATCA’s repeal.
The wheels are now spinning, with clear anti-FATCA momentum being noted via a bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives.
Although critics have long objected strenuously to FATCA’s mandates as being overreaching and constitutionally suspect, they have been unable to do much more than object.
Given Republican control of both congressional branches and the White House currently, though, they now have the political traction to perhaps materially alter the law or, as noted herein, dismantle it completely.
Time, of course, will tell.