Americans in Belgium and FATCA law?

Hi everyone

is anyone familiar with the FATCA law? Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a portion of the 2010 Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act. The FATCA requires individuals to report their financial accounts held outside of the United States, and requires foreign financial institutions to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about their American clients. FATCA was designed primarily to combat offshore tax evasion and to recoup federal tax revenues. … liance_Act

So my husband's bank account was blocked and he couldnt use his card anymore. He went to his bank to see what the problem is. he thought maybe his card was not working right.
At his bank they told him that they blocked his account and that he couldnt get his money. They got their orders to block all US citizens accounts until they can prove that they dont owe taxes to the US.

At our other bank they told us the same thing. They will block our account because they also got their orders... We have to prove that we dont owe the US taxes.

Anyone also have this problem?

Almost the same thing happened to me, my bank here in Belgium gave me some paperwork to sign giving authorization for the IRS to verify my account in order to make sure I do not owe taxes from my income, although I receive my social security benefits each month from the US, I am retired and did not see any reason why this had to be done but I signed these documents anyway since I have nothing to hide from the US government. I have been residing here in Belgium for almost four years and just found out recently that I was supposed to file income taxes with the IRS and I have not done this, so this year I will certainly take care of filing before I get in trouble even tough I know I do not owe them anything but just in case.

Your bank in Belgium should have notified you of this procedure necessary for you or your husband to continue using your bank card, there was a delay of one month for this to be done and a warning that if these documents were not signed in time, only then would your account be blocked.

My advice to you would be to contact your bank immediately and let them know that you never received this announcement from them and that your husband needs this in order to continue doing business with that bank! I am not an attorney and am not too familiar with the laws in this country, however I sincerely believe that what your bank did was wrong, they should have contacted you or your husband for this and notified you of the circumstances if these papers were not signed in time.

I hope things work out for you, best wishes for a Happy New year and enjoy your stay in Belgium.


Have joined this group and forwarded this story via 2 Twitter accounts, etc etc. Greetings, from nobledreamer.   ;)

PS- to see connections in Canada, pls see my profile, presume I can't post URLs yet.

Yes indeed many, many people are having or will have this problem.

FATCA is a US law being forced on banks around the world. It is coming into effect and it is a huge concern that is wreaking havoc all around the expatriate community.  Banks are falling over themselves to denounce any US persons to the US authorities in order to get favored status and not have penalties and withholding imposed on them.  Beyond having their bank cards blocked, many US citizens are being completely kicked out of their banks, having to liquidate retirement savings early, being denied life insurance and mortgages, being refused to open an account. 

I suggest that any US person living outside the US should start thoroughly researching the problems and their options...  (that includes dual nationals, children of US parents, green card holders even if greencard expired and person returned home, etc...) Keywords to search for would be FATCA,  FBAR penalties, US Person expatriate, CBT (citizen based taxation), OVDI program, etc..  Stories of US citizens being kicked out of banks can be found by typing keywords like "Americans bank pariah"   

SueMed from your post I gather your husband is a US person but you are not.  FATCA is creating trauma and distress in expat families especially when one member is a US person and others not.  Families are being forced to move back to the USA, to renounce their US citizenship, and/or completely separate all their financial dealings in order to protect the non-US members from becoming exposed to US threats, double taxation and compliance costs.

Eddyrose from your post I gather you are just in the beginning of your information gathering stage.

If you never had more than 6,000 euros in any European bank account over which you have signing power you are safe.  Otherwise,  if you have investments like a home or retirement account or savings outside of the US, or more that +- 6000 euros in any account you can sign for (even if not in your name), you must report everthing annually.  Regardless of whether you have any taxes to pay.  Including AMT, gift tax, etc etc... Regardless of whether you have any earned or passive income.  Penalties for not doing this are confiscatory.   

You may think you did  nothing wrong but the US tax code considers you a cheat for just moving abroad and not knowing that you had to report all your * assets * (not just your income) annually to the US government.

Possibly the people at your bank have no idea about this and assume that since you are a Belgian resident you will not be exposed to US annual reporting, penalties and taxes.  European notaries, lawyers and accountants are also often not at all aware of this, if you try to get local counsel, they may even tell you it's not true or you are mistaken.  It is against European law but it is US law and you as a US person are subject US law while living abroad. 

Some good information places are the American Citizens Abroad (.org) website, the Isaac Brock Society website, the Maple Sandbox website, the French American Flophouse website....

Many many people are in your situation and I'm sure solutions will be found but right now a lot of people are in distress because of this.  I wish you all the best.

Belgium has signed an IGA, intergovernmental agreement, which is found by searching for Belgium FATCA IGA.

This details the Belgian Government's agreement with the IRS.  Some typically Belgian accounts, such as the small tax deductible retirement savings accounts, are exempt from FATCA under this agreement.

A dual national who is known in Belgium as a Belgian may be "found out" by his/her bank because, for instance, of birthplace.  In this case Deutsche Bank threw me out.  ING will keep you, and comply with FATCA.

The conundrum is for the dual national who doesn't do US taxes (they should, but don't) and whose bank does not know them to be a "US person".  This person will be unable to open other bank accounts, because their ID identifies a US birthplace and the new bank will not want them (most of the time).  But they could continue to function under the radar.  Assuming this person is of modest means, and heavily taxed in Belgium, and that the time and financial burden of complying with IRS and FATCA and FBAR are ridiculous and disproportionate, the only option is to renounce US citizenship, which is a true shame, and precludes future return to the US.  And renouncing US citizenship is probably only possible if you have paperwork to prove you owe no taxes...  Catch 22. 

FATCA is a ridiculous, overreaching law that will probably do little to tame true fraudsters, but a lot to harm little people who have a link with the US.

Thanks everyone for your reply.

So far, we still have the problem of not being able to find a bank for my husband.
We tried another bank, and filled out all the paper work and the same thing happend again... his card was blocked again...

And yes, im Belgian and my hubby is a US citizen, living in Belgium now.

Tomorrow we're going to the US for a holiday and when we come back we'll take care of this fatca 'problem'.

Have a nice day!

Greetings from Canada!

I have only recently found/joined Expatblog and am discovering a whole world of interesting issues.  The main issue which brought me to Expatblog was my wish to:

(1) find out information on what other US expats around the world were having to deal with in relation to FATCA, and
(2) to inform other US expats around the world that in Canada there now is an active group which has mounted an in-the-courts federal law suit against FATCA and the IGA.

I have just posted the following on another country's forum that focuses on US Taxes/ FATCA.  Thought you folks in Belgium, might be interested to know of our work, too: 

The Canadian Charter Challenge is, as far as we know, the ONLY such ongoing litigation against FATCA in THE WORLD.  Republicans Overseas have linked with a lawyer (Jim Bopp) to bring forward a Constitutional Challenge case inside the USA (since FATCA contravenes several US Citizen "inalienanable rights" from the Bill of Rights), and there have been news articles about their position, but this effort seems to be stalled awaiting more funding support before proceeding.

The Canadian lawsuit, being supported by the Alliance For The Defence of Canadian Sovereignty (adcs dash adsc dot ca) came about as an offshoot from an earlier (and still very VERY viable) grass roots blog site called the Isaacbrocksociety, The IBS has as it's motto "Liberty and Justice for All United States Persons Abroad".  It's blog site has been vigorously going for now 3 years (since the word of FATCA and more heavy-handed filing rules started to appear).  You can read about this IBS history, and about some of our accomplishments (e.g. presentations to the US Congress, to the Canadian Parliament, a UN Human Rights Complaint against CBT) by typing into Googlesearch        Synopsis; History of Isaac Brock Society.  Here you will see links to ADCS, an Archive of our daily posts and +++ other background information.

The main topic at IBS has been FATCA, but also ranting about CBT (citizen-based-taxes), the situation of Accidental Americans (born in the US but to non-US parents then brought back to their home country as an infant/young child yet the US still claims them as "taxable citizens"), answering questions from posters all over the world who are just facing their "OMG, I might have US TAX obligations" moment, plus ongoing sharing of links to print and internet news articles RE FATCA, FBAR, the increase in US renunciations, and many many other related topics.  Many of our "members" make amazingly articulate comments to these articles, raising important questions and perspectives from an Expat's point of view for folks in the "homeland" to consider/reconsider).

When the Canadian IGA was passed in late June 2014 (hidden in a 300-pg omnibus "Budget Bill", similar to how FATCA was passed hidden in the HIRE Act), IBS members were immediately ready to move into legal action.  Central members of IBS had already connected with a renowned Canadian Constitutional Lawyer and had established ADCS as a registered business entity for raising funds towards this legal action.  Since July, we have gathered 1/2 of the required $500,000.00 (Cdn$) to bring this case to the first federal court hearing; as of today, we need $42,760 more in January to make the February 1, 2015  installment of $200,000 (and $200,000 further will be needed at the beginning of May and the beginning of August).  ADCS has received donations from supporters living in many countries, not just from within Canada; we have even had donations from folks INSIDE the US who think FATCA is outrageous.

While James noted that this lawsuit is against "the Attorney-General of Canada", it is actually against the Government of Canada (now tightly led by the Conservative Party that preferred to eliminate problems for the banking industry rather than support it's citizens).  You can read the claim at the ADCS site but, basically, it is that   signing on to FATCA via the IGA contravenes various basic tenants of Canadian law as documented in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms (and numerous laws that have branched from this basic legal platform).  In short, we are arguing that foreign law (in this case US law) should not supersede sovereign Canadian law, one of which is that there shall be no discrimination in Canada based on nationality or parentage.

This post is already quite long, so I don't want to add much more except to encourage you to

(1) please check out these Canadian sites (and add your voice - - we have quite a number of posters from other countries and really want to know of your experience too) and

(2) please share this information about our legal challenge against FATCA (as noted above, the ONLY active one in the WORLD) with as many US expats as you know there (or in other countries) and

(3) please consider making a small (or not so small) supportive contribution to this historic effort.  If we cannot raise sufficient funds to go forth, all US expats will lose this opportunity and it is extremely unlikely that any such challenge against this imperialistic economic and legal invasion will ever again be attempted.  Our hope is that if we are successful, this may encourage other countries to review, reconsider, and stand up to these world-wide US's demands.

May 2015 be an amazing year for us all,