Cautiously optimistic about the @SenMikeLee and Jim Bopp #FATCA Legal Action initiative

The following tweets reference two great summaries of the AARO FATCA meeting on October 6, 2014 in Paris:

This is excellent and welcome news. What I particularly like are the specific reasons given for his opposition to FATCA and making his thinking the juridical basis for Jim Bopp’s FATCA Legal Action lawsuit.

As an aside – could it really be true that Senator Lee is the only “Constitutional Scholar” in the Senate? Also of note, is that Senator Lee’s father Rex Lee, served as Solicitor General under President Reagen.

It appears that Senator Lee has joined Senator Rand Paul as the first American politicians to actively oppose FATCA.

Welcome news indeed!

I take the Liberty of quoting from Victoria Ferauge’s superb account of the meeting:

Senator Lee spoke first and he began with some anecdotes from the time when he was first elected to the Senate. He’s a young man with a quiet and modest demeanour. He recounted how in the very beginning he had moments where because of his youth and appearance he was taken for something other than a member of that august body, the US Senate, and how he finally had to quietly but firmly assert himself as the elected-by-the-people junior Senator from Utah. He invited us to laugh with him and we did. But the funny stories took a very serious turn when he shared the lesson he drew from that experience: “We must assert what is rightfully ours,” he said, “if it is to have any meaning.”

US citizens wherever they live, he said, have constitutional rights that cannot be taken away by anyone.

And how can the Senator say such a thing with so much conviction? Because he was an American abroad himself. Because his mother was born in Europe to two expatriate American citizens. Because he has a son abroad today.

With great candour he explained that FATCA was part of a larger bill that most US lawmakers probably didn’t read and surely barely understood before they voted on it. Furthermore, there was no real political risk to them – no chance that they would lose their seats by attacking Americans abroad, a population little-known and slightly threatening to people in the American homeland. In light of what has happened since it was passed (the citizenship renunciations and the widespread discrimination it has brought to US citizens abroad), it should be repealed, he said, and that’s not a liberal versus conservative, or republicans versus democrats issue; it’s an American issue. “I will fight until it’s done,” he assured us, and, “While you can’t vote for me, I can vote for you.”

Mr. Bopp then took the floor and with quiet precision he laid out the case he is preparing against FATCA and the hated FBAR (renamed the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Form 114), the latter of which he rightly noted, is based on the assumption that Americans abroad are all tax cheats and simply can’t be trusted. FATCA, too, is all about stopping the, as John McCain said, “illegal activities” of the American population abroad. The fines for non-compliance are clearly excessive, he said, and noted one case where an individual caught in the dragnet ended up paying 150% of the value of the non-reported account.

Americans have rights, he noted, under the US Constitution. Government must make an “individualized determination and (have) probable cause” to go after people it believes are violating the law. FATCA and FBAR are nothing more than “fishing expeditions” and while the US IRS does have some leniency in this area, this is “off the scale” and he believes that US courts will strike them down. And all this, he said, to enforce a system of citizenship (not residence)-based taxation which results in “adverse and differential treatment” against Americans abroad.

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One thought on “Cautiously optimistic about the @SenMikeLee and Jim Bopp #FATCA Legal Action initiative

  1. Pingback: The Isaac Brock Society | Cautiously optimistic about the @SenMikeLee and Jim Bopp #FATCA Legal Action initiative

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