While this is not a question, it will

09/27/2014 - 12:30

While this is not a question, it will certainly address questions which Americans may have about living in Italy.Any American thinking about living and working as a resident in a foreign country may want to read this article first.________________________Foreign banks tell U.S. customers they won't work with AmericansThousands of Americans abroad are giving up their citizenship as the implementation of a complex new US tax law causes banks to shut down accounts for US expatriates.http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/sep/24/americans-chased-by-irs-give-up-citizenship-after-being-forced-out-of-bank-accounts


I was reading about this recently too and even alerted my accountant, the threshold seems to 50,000 in your bank account, correct? Hopefully with more and more news about this being made public, they will look at these laws a little better.. it just seems very rash and irrational.. 

The $50,000 threshhold is the requirement for foreign banks to automatically report your assets to the IRS. Many banks are now refusing to deal with Americans, regardless of their total assets, because of the law's far-reaching power into the affairs of these banks. Banks don't want the US government poking around in their business, and I don't blame them. With the possibility of excessive fines, many foreign banks are choosing to avoid these problems simply by denying bank access to all Americans. While the intent of the law is the US government's ability to identify tax cheats and to discourage potential tax fraud, the law is having unforeseen negative effects on US ex-pats.I would be interested in hearing from you if this becomes a problem with any of your American friends in Florence.

I can certainly understand the banks not wanting to deal with Americans because of the US intervention.  We have lived in South American, now Ireland, and next year moving to Italy.  We use our US credit union and draw out the maximum and pay cash for our rent, utilities, groceries, etc.  Use our visa for travel and then pay through our US account.  Don't trust banks very much and prefer to do it this way.

While the intent of the law is the US government's ability to identify tax cheats and to discourage potential tax fraud, the law's provisions give the US government far-reaching power into the affairs of foreign banks. Because of this, many banks are now refusing to allow accounts owned by a US citizen, regardless of the amount in the account. They won't even permit joint accounts with a citizen of the country.To work legally in most foreign countries Americans must have an account with a local bank, usually in local currency, not in US dollars. Being unable to open and/or maintain local bank accounts will prevent Americans from working legally abroad, which is the primary reason so many US dual-citizen ex-pats are now renouncing their US citizenship.

Certainly that's good advice, but if an American ex-pat can't find a bank that will allow them to open and/or maintain an account, then the quality of the accountant may not matter. No one yet knows how pervasive this problem will be. If the US government acts responsibly, it may become a non-issue, but that's small consolation for the Americans who have already felt compelled to renounce their US citizenship.

You're not wrong! I'd be loath to renounce either citizenship, and am hopeful that because I am not high-income (though I'd of course love to be!), it may be a bit more straightforward. Only time will tell, I'll update when I get advice from my own accountants (fortunate to have an Italian uncle who is one as well as my U.S. accountant).

I brought this discussion over from Facebook._____________________________The issue here is not about paying US taxes. This is about foreign banks refusing to allow Americans to own bank accounts of any kind because of the Foreign Accounts Taxation Compliance Act (FATCA). This law requires all foreign banks to disclose the financial information of any American with assets over $50,000 sitting in banks outside of the US. While the intent of FATCA is the US government's ability to identify tax cheats and to discourage potential tax fraud, the law is having unforeseen negative effects on US ex-pats.Even if you have less than $50,000, you are not immune from the law's effects. FATCA gives the US government far-reaching power into the affairs of foreign banks. These banks don't want the US government poking around in their business, so to avoid the possibility of excessive fines for even just one unreported account, many foreign banks are choosing to deny bank account access to all Americans.Because of this, many US dual-citizen ex-pats are being forced to renounce their US citizenship to maintain their banking privileges. Those Americans without dual citizenship can't find work abroad because FATCA is preventing them from acquiring an account with a local bank. Being unable to open and/or maintain a local bank account will prevent most Americans from working abroad legally.No one yet knows how pervasive this bank account problem will be for Americans living abroad. If the US government acts responsibly, it may become a non-issue, but that's small consolation for the Americans who have already felt compelled to renounce their US citizenship.----------(From Facebook) Armondo Ogden - Isn't there still Swiss and off shore accounts. Seems like there are plenty of options. I think people are losin their citizenship because it's not what it used to be. And would rather not be American at all----------Earl Owens' reply: The Swiss banking system has been cooperating with the Internal Revenue Service for a number of years now. Off-shore banks have continued to be a problem, but FATCA now overcomes that barrier. Note, that if you live and work in Italy, a Swiss or off-shore account won't help you. You'll need a local bank account.Foreign banks don't want the IRS meddling in their business and can still refuse to cooperate with the IRS, but if they do, the US government is now empowered to seize assets held in the United States. For every legitimate foreign bank this is a powerful incentive to cooperate. The solution for many banks, mostly those in Europe, has been to close the accounts held by Americans.----------To Armondo Ogden - I don't know your nationality, but I doubt there are many Americans who would take the forfeiture of their citizenship as lightly as you might suggest. Despite its problems, America is still the land of opportunity and the greatest country on Earth.

Thank you for posting this long and comprehensive answer, this is a fascinating subject to me as well as an expat here in Italy and I know that personally I would never want to have renounce my citizenship because of banking issues. The local feeling here is that everyone is trying to still figure out the exact logistics,I haven't seen many bank account closures in Florence from any friends here but I know that this subject has been spoken about. Let's keep each other posted on this one.. 

As I learn more I'll keep you posted. I'm hoping the initial closure of accounts was a knee-jerk reaction to FATCA. After banks have a chance to see what little impact it has on their operations, this issue may disappear. Please let me know if you hear of anyone experiencing a problem in Italy. Grazie mille!

I subscribe to your circulation.  I posted my inquiry concerning establishing an Italian bank account to forward funds to before I arrive in Italy.  First, securing a  tax code.  I won't have an address and do not plan on one for my 4 month tour of Italy starting in Northern Italy in early September and ending up in Sicily in November, 2016.Trying to make sense of a bank that won't charge absurd fees for holding my funds.  Just trying to get a bank account set up in Italy before my prolonged stay.  Asking for advice in advance.

Colby - My husband and I are in a similar situaion.  We are looking to figure out how to establish an account with a bank in the US that has international branches specifically in Italy or the other way around.  As we are Americans it is proving to be quite difficult just for trips.  The point that we are ready to work toward our residencies in Italy it should be a little easier (we hope).

I recently opened a bank account in Italy, but I had to go to 4 different banks before I could find one that would allow me to do so.  As to bank accounts in Switzerland, I just read an article that said many Swiss banks are closing out accounts held by Americans, which includes any investments in retirement plans, which they are being forced to cash out.  The U.S. is making it quite difficult for us expats to live abroad.  I am not a dual citizen, so the idea of giving up U.S. citizenship is not one I would consider.  We will see what happens. 

Unfortunately the money from individuals is just not significant enough for the banks. It's easier for them to simply refuse to open accounts for Americans, than to risk running afoul of US law. Too much paperwork and excessive penalties - just not worth it for the banks. Now if you have a large corporate account, that's a whole different story.

I got this surprise when I tried to open a bank account in France. Their reasoning behind my denial was simply that I was American, without going into much detail.About two years ago, I was able to open a joint account in France, but that might not be a viable possility for everyone. Who knows if that's changed now....

FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act was signed into law on December 4, 2015. It affects any U.S. citizen with foreign employment/income/assets outside the United States.Passports and passport renewals may be denied to any taxpayer identified by the IRS as seriously delinquent. A seriously delinquent tax debt includes any outstanding debt for federal taxes in excess of $50,000 (indexed each year for inflation), including interest and penalties. Even if not meeting the definition of delinquent, the IRS reserves the right to deny a passport to any U.S. citizen not fulfilling their U.S. tax obligations.Passport applications may also be denied for any applicant for a passport if the applicant fails to provide a social security number or provides an incorrect or invalid social security number.____________________________________________Tips For U.S. Expats Coping With New FAST Law Affecting PassportsIf you’re a U.S. taxpayer living outside the country or otherwise have non-U.S. income or assets of any sort, don’t assume that the preparation of your tax return is easy and don’t assume that your tax preparer knows what they’re doing.If you have any of the following, you might consider your return to be some somewhat complicated: A foreign pension, non-U.S. investment funds, ownership of a foreign entity (company, partnership, trust, etc.), signatory or other authority over a foreign financial account, a foreign inheritance, expatriate benefits from your employer, stock options, earned income more than around $100,000 a year in a foreign country, foreign bank account balances over $10,000, foreign financial assets over $50,000, a non-citizen spouse, foreign life insurance, mortgage in a foreign currency, sale or rental of real estate outside the U.S., self-employment income and more.Read more:http://blogs.wsj.com/expat/2015/12/13/tips-for-u-s-expats-coping-with-new-fast-law-affecting-passports/