Labour MEPs: Time to give accidental Americans their independence from US tax authorities

The European Parliament is set to vote tomorrow for a resolution calling on the Commission and national governments to take action to help EU citizens affected by the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), under which anyone born there is under threat of unjust tax demands and complex legal proceedings from US tax authorities unless they pay $2,350 (£1,780) to revoke their US citizenship.

Alex Mayer MEP told the European Parliament:

“Thousands of Brits are receiving threatening letters telling them they must pay US tax – people who were by chance born in the USA – but have spent their working lives here in Britain paying British tax.

“The US is almost unique in the world by taxing according to citizenship, not if you live in the country. Anyone wanting to avoid the US taxman must pay the world’s highest fee to renounce US citizenship and provide complex tax return forms and payments going back five years.

“We’ve got European banks handing over personal data about their customers to the US authorities. FATCA breaches the right to data privacy of the European Convention of Human Rights and the big financial barriers to renouncing citizenship breach Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“This US Independence Day, I hope we send a strong message to the US that our citizens deserve better. We are upholding European values, and we want accidental Americans to gain their independence.”

Alex Mayer MEP added:

“One of my constituents, Merryn Grimley, has lived in Britain for seventy-two years. She has racked up £9,000 worth of fees on a tax accountant that knows both the UK and US tax systems to sort out her finances to ensure she is not liable for prosecution or fines for doing it incorrectly.

“Merryn went to school in England, worked all her life in England and retired in England. Now she’s being chased down like a criminal. This cruel and unusual punishment must end.”

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, member of the European Parliament petitions committee, said:

“FATCA is an egregious overreach by US tax authorities, particularly in the cases of accidental Americans who have no tangible connection to the States except being born on US soil. This legislation leads to double taxation and many connected tax compliance issues on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s even more unfair considering the US charge extortionate rates to those wishing to rescind American citizenship.

“It is ironic that a country founded on the principle of “no taxation without representation” imposes unjust tax demands on the dual citizens of other nations.”