The "Accidental Americans" association has been battling for years to be exempt from a US demand that all its citizens overseas file bank details along with yearly tax returns.
The group says thousands of French and other foreigners are deemed Americans because they were born in the US, even though they may have lived there only a few months or years when they were young.
There are more than 780 ‘accidental Americans’ spread around France, all they have in common is the fact that they are entitled to American citizenship. Some of them had left America in the days after being born in an American hospital. Some of them didn’t even know they were technically American. Some of them don’t even speak English.
There are estimates that there may actually be as many as 10,000 ‘accidental Americans’ in France, thousands of whom still do not know that they technically have American citizenship, and up to 300,000 across Europe. While formally giving up US citizenship is an option, it can be long and costly.
They want to be freed from the annual filing requirements with the Internal Revenue Service, and from seeing their banks forced to hand over their banking details to the US taxman.
In 2017, Washington accepted a partial moratorium on the rule, known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), set up to battle offshore tax evasion.
The FIRPTA exemption expire at the end of this year, and the French banking federation FBF has warned that 40,000 accounts could be closed come January if no accord is reached on the filing requirements. In refusing to hand over information required by the United States, French banks would expose themselves to penalties.
Accidental Americans considers that a Franco-American agreement from 2013 which allows for FATCA's application in France, "violates EU laws on data protection" by authorising "the transmission and storage of huge amounts of personal data in the United States," it said in a statement. As a result, the advocacy group says French nationals with dual American citizenship face de facto discrimination, even though "most of these people have no links with the United States."
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