Friday 07 May 2021

Dutch MPs call for action on accidental American bank accounts

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Dutch MPs will on Tuesday evening debate the problem of ‘accidental Americans’, who face losing their bank accounts because they unwittingly or unwillingly have US nationality.

According to the NRC, a majority of MPs want finance minister Wopke Hoekstra to take action. ‘We don’t have a lot of time to think about it. These people are losing their bank accounts now and we need a solution,’ VVD parliamentarian Helma Lodders told the paper.

The banks are threatening to close the accounts of people with American nationality, unless they can furnish them with a US tax number. But there are thousands of Dutch nationals in the Netherlands with American nationality who do not have a tax number because they have never lived in the country and may not even have realised they are also American.

The legislation, known as FATCA – Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act – requires all US citizens to supply the government with information about any assets they hold abroad, including bank accounts, houses and more. It also requires non-US banks with American clients to furnish the IRS with information about those holdings.

In the Netherlands some 20,000 people are thought to fall into the accidental American category.

A spokesman for the Dutch banking association said that people caught in the FATCA trap have had several years to sort out their individual situations. ‘Many Dutch banks which do business in the US cannot ignore their rules,’ the spokesman told the NRC.

Europe

Hoekstra told MPs ahead of Tuesday evening’s debate that the banks have agreed not to close the accounts of people who have started dealing with the red tape. In addition, the EU is preparing a letter to the US authorities calling for talks on the issue at an EU level, he said.

Earlier this year, DutchNews.nl reported that consulate closures were causing long delays for people who were trying to sort out their paperwork.

The only other way open to Dutch Americans is to renounce their American nationality. This, however, comes at a prohibitive cost to many– the fee went up from $450 to $2,350 in 2014. They also have to prove they have paid US taxes for the past five years.

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