Hope my wife isn’t reading this.
Anyway, where were we? Ah, yes, America. So I guess I made my point. Lovely place, friendly people (unless they are shooting at you) and, for those particular reasons, I want to visit there again like I have so many times before.
What’s to stop me you ask?
Well, nothing actually, and so may it remain. But in my line of work, we private bankers are on the firing line from the most powerful governmental agency to ever grace the planet. No, it is not the FBI, CIA or NSA. FYI it’s the IRS.
Only a few years ago, the IRS decided it was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore. The IRS wanted tabs on all Americans wherever they may roam, regardless of what country they were tax liable in.
Now the thing with the IRS is that the first rule of the IRS is you don’t mess with the IRS. The army, navy, air force, marines? Sure, mess with them plenty. But the IRS? Nope, no way. If they had audited Afghanistan instead of invading it, that s%*t would be over by now. That’s how badass these guys are.
Still not convinced? If you don’t believe the pen is mightier than the sword, then you, my friend, have never been on the business end of an IRS auditor’s pocket protector.
This should get you to finally come round, just look at the sorry story of Bank Wegelin from Switzerland. It was the oldest bank in the country known for banking. That would pretty much make it the first bank ever in modern private banking.
In January of 2013, the bank was forced to close down because it had harboured American clients’ money without telling the IRS. Note that Bank Wegelin was under Swiss jurisdiction, not American, so they weren’t even breaking any national laws.
Just imagine the Wegelin boss, Konrad Hummler, sitting about in his office, cool as a cucumber, minding his own banking business, checking his Patek Phillippe to see if it was time for a long lunch and filing his nails with one of those cute little Swiss pen knives that they are so proud of, when into the email pops a message.
“Dear Konrad Hummler AKA Swiss Banking Gnome,
This is the IRS; give us all the data you have on US clients.
So as to motivate you, we have put an arrest warrant out on you. If you set foot in the US, your butt will be thrown in the slammer.
Unless you fancy spending some up close and personal time alone in a cell with a big fat red neck called Bubba who will christen you “Sweet Cheeks” the moment he sets eye on you, I suggest you supply us with the requested info, like pronto, before my Starbucks latte gets cold. Then you can carry on doing what you’ve been doing for hundreds of years, just not on Uncle Sam’s tax dime.
Yippie ki-yay Mutha F*#^a.
Have a nice day,
Or, words to that effect (I may have embellished a little).
Well, the old chaps at Wegelin decided to turn their noses up at this and give a dismissive snort or two and go back to their red wine and ignore Travis’s request.
Fast-forward a few months and the bank was shut down.
So what’s an American to do who has undeclared money in offshore accounts. Fess up is what I say. You can’t just up and move that money around to another bank. I know, most of you have tried, right? I don't know one single European bank who will open accounts for anyone with anything that even has the whiff of the Stars and Stripes.
And this is why:
FATCA which stands for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act demands that foreign banks give all information regarding American account holders to the IRS or face a 30% withholding tax on any assets the bank holds in the US … and that’s just the polite bit.
So as you can see, the acting Commissioner Stephen T. Miller’s boys and girls have been given pretty broad powers to get what they want. And get it they will.
The world has gotten smaller, my friends; tax money has become even more attractive to governments, and they are aggressive in pursuing that money. They see it as a legitimate and easy target, because the electorate hates banks, bankers and rich folk. When you have all three in the same equation, well, you might as well get out the tar and feathers, as there’s fun to be had.
So what do you think? Is it right that the IRS is so aggressive?