NSA

How the IRS Can Share Your Bank Info With Security Agencies

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Hands off my bank accounts, NSA! ||| NewlySwissed.com
NewlySwissed.com

Your banking information is an open book, if, like me, you are one of many millions of Americans who has money deposited in a foreign financial institution. That's due to a terrible 2010 law called the Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act, or FATCA (such restraint there in not adding the "TS" at the end!), which opens up Americans' foreign holdings to microscopic scrutiny and even seizure by the Internal Revenue Service.

I have written previously about how the law is making it nigh on impossible for many of the estimated 6 million Americans living abroad to have a basic bank account, since overseas institutions rightly do not care to work for the IRS. Now Reason Contributing Editor Michael Young, who lives in Lebanon, explains FATCA's relationship with the ongoing National Security Agency spy scandals:

FATCA is even worse than the already invasive collection of telecommunications metadata being carried out by the NSA. Metadata is information pertaining to communications, but does not include the actual content of conversations. FATCA is a look into the content of accounts, and would almost certainly have provoked outrage had it been implemented in the United States. 

Can the information gleaned through FATCA be shared with other government agencies, especially those seeking to uncover terrorist activities? According to the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists, the answer is yes. A closer examination of the US tax code, the ACFCS has argued, proves that anyone who actually "believes that his or her problems with US agencies from disclosure of non-US accounts will be limited to tax issues is mistaken."

Feel the patriotism! ||| KPMG.com
KPMG.com

Title 26, Section 6103 of the tax code opens doors that allow US government agencies, including intelligence agencies, and even Congress, to gain access to information obtained through FATCA. For instance, ACFCS notes, Section 6103 "permits disclosure of 'return information' to certain Federal officers and employees and law enforcement agencies for purposes of combating terrorism."

Here FATCA intersects with the logic behind the NSA surveillance programs, allowing federal agencies to share the private accounts of individuals in criminal investigations. But while there are legal safeguards to protect the rights of such individuals, the reality is that when it comes to terrorism, the tendency of judges is to give the benefit of the doubt to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Whole thing here.

Bonus reminder: U.S. efforts to infiltrate and degrade Swiss banking secrecy was one of the prime motivations for Edward Snowden.

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  1. They are basically going to make it impossible for American citizens to work overseas. That will of course make hiring Americans distinctly unattractive to multinationals. It is a good first step to isolating the country from the world economy and turning us into East Germany.

    1. It was such a pain in the ass to open a bank account in Thailand. My British friends were amazed. They were also amazed that I had to pay taxes even though I wasn’t living in America at the time. The Thais punished Americans by giving them a lower interest rate because of some stupid tit for tat legislation.

      The fact that one can be forced to pay taxes without receiving many or all the services provided shows the injustice of compulsory taxation.

      1. Taxing expatriots is appalling. It doesn’t raise any revenue. It is just mean spirited, fuck you, we hate all Americans and want to take their shit because we can, policy. That is all it is.

        1. No, it’s designed to keep all the wealthy people from leaving.

    2. I thought 100 percent NSA surveillance was the first step to turning us into East Germany?

  2. What would happen if a foreign bank told the IRS to go fuck itself and allowed Americans to open up accounts there without going through this bullshit? Would progressives turn the class warfare into actual warfare?

      1. I love it–a bloodless war started by an Irish shepherd’s pig eating somebody else’s potatoes.

    1. They would tell them fine, you are on our list and can no longer do business in the US and no one who does business with you can do business with the US. It would be a lot of hassle.

      The easier thing to do is just refuse to do business with Americans. That way the IRS has no reason to fuck with you. And that is what most banks are doing. They are going to make it so that Americans can no longer do business abroad. Isn’t that going to work out well?

    2. They would be called money launderers and havens for criminals and ostracized.

  3. Uh, FATCATS wouldn’t make sense. It’s the “Forcing Americans To Consider Abandoning Citizenship” act. I don’t know why they left the C off the end, though.

    1. Oh, wait, maybe it’s “Foreign Americans Taught to Curse America”. That would work.

  4. We have to extract every drop from these tax evading rich bastards, as they sip champagne from hooker’s shoes in Paris hotel rooms and light their cigars with $100 bills.

  5. Total Information Awareness: it’s only bad when Republikkkans want to do it.

    1. I seem to recall “right wing talk radio” leading the outrage against the TIA… liberals want the state to watch everyone, closely.

  6. The Swiss should declare war on us.

    1. It would be interesting to see whether other European countries would deny the use of their airspace to either of the belligerents.

  7. FATCA is a look into the content of accounts, and would almost certainly have provoked outrage had it been implemented in the United States.

    Just give it time. Soon enough some shitheel will decide that it’s not “fair” that only foreign accounts can be looked into. So in the name of “fairness” (and because TERRIZM) all domestic bank accounts should be subject to the same regulation. Because totalitarian police states are A-OK as long as everyone’s being oppressed equally. Because “FAIRENESS!!!111!!!!11!”.

  8. That’s the beauty of gold coins — pay cash for them, no records, no bank account, hide ’em in a safe spot, spend as needed.

  9. I have written previously about how the law is making it nigh on impossible for many of the estimated 6 million Americans living abroad to have a basic bank account, since overseas institutions rightly do not care to work for the IRS.

    Never underestimate the government’s ability to ban or regulate yadda yadda.

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