updated 10:30 AM CEST, Sep 19, 2019

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Report: Dutch lawmakers say 'accidental American tax chaos best dealt with by Europe'

Menno Snel Menno Snel

Dutch lawmakers have called on fellow EU member states "to campaign together for changes to American tax laws which are affecting thousands of people who have American nationality but no ties to [that] country", an English-language publication in the Netherlands has reported. 

According to DutchNews.nl, Menno Snel – a finance secretary in the Dutch government who has spoken out in the past on the matter of the harsh effects certain U.S. tax legislation is having on European citizens – said he thought "a coordinated signal by Europe is the strongest approach" to convincing the U.S. to change the way it treats such expats, in an answer to MPs questions.

That said, Snel, pictured above, told the MPs that Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte had raised the matter of the problems facing ‘accidental Americans’ during his [Rutte's] recent visit to the U.S., as he did himself when he was in the U.S. in May.

In publishing its article on the issue of the accidental Americans, DutchNews.nl became the latest in a series of European media organizations to highlight the issue since it was raised last Friday by a number of Belgian news websites.

As reported, they were followed by The Guardian in the UK on Sunday, and The Daily Mail on Monday.

The story itself isn't new, however, although it is in the spotlight at the moment because, as reported, Europe's banks say they are being caught between a European law that obliges European banks to provide bank accounts to EU citizens who wish to have them, and a pending end-of-year U.S. deadline to provide "Tax Information Numbers," typically U.S. Social Security numbers, of all their U.S. clients, which many "accidentals" are said to lack.

Without those numbers, the banks say they will be unable to be considered in compliance with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) as of the beginning of 2020. 

The U.S. Treasury had agreed to relax its requirements involving TINs temporarily, when FATCA first came into force in 2014.

It is this specific problem, the DutchNews.nl report noted, that has "led some Dutch banks to say they will block U.S.-owned accounts unless their owners provide a U.S. tax number before October 1, because of fears they could face sanctions."

The article went on to quote Snel as saying the Dutch government doesn't share the banks’ view that they could face tough sanctions for non-compliance, and "pointed out that under European law, banks are required to provide everyone living in the Netherlands with a basic bank account."

"In the end, it is up to the regulators to take action if rules on access to basic bank accounts are not met," the DutchNews.nl article quoted Snel as adding.

As reported, Snel personally raised his concerns about the accidental Americans' banking issue with U.S. Treasury deputy secretary Justin Muzinich in May during a trip to Washington, and followed up on the matter the next day with members of Congress. 

In an email response to questions from the American Expat Financial News Journal at the time of Snel's Washington trip, Heleen Haverkort, a spokesperson for Snel, reiterated earlier statements to the effect that U.S. officials “really see what the problem is” and that they had indicated “that they would look into [the issues being raised].”

She added that “we are hoping to hear further on this matter by [the] summer.”

Because they have lived most if not all of their lives outside of the U.S., so-called "accidental Americans" have been finding it difficult to open and maintain bank accounts and obtain other financial services in the countries in which they reside ever since FATCA was signed into law in 2010, and especially after it began to take effect in 2014.

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