Monday, February 22, 2016

Bank safari

"We were once proud to have Americans as clients. C'est triste." 

The bank teller shook her head and glanced downward to show, yes, it was sad that my husband would have to go thru all kinds of hoops to open an account where I'd had both a business and personal account for ten years. And even then there was a chance he wouldn't be accepted.

He's already been turned down by the Postal Service Bank. We've done one appeal and may try for another.

We've learned that when one bar is met, another appears than another and another and...

The problem?

He's American and banks all over the world are refusing American accounts because of FATCA, Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which says banks around the world must report all American account holders to the IRS or face fines of 30% of US assets and/or be shut out of the international banking system.

Their reaction after spending trillions in compliance is to close all American accounts, call in mortgages, not open any new accounts, etc. (Expat Americans are also denied access to investments and pension funds.)

To the IRS these are "foreign" banks.

To us?

They are local. I can sit down and have a cup of coffee in the early morning with one of the tellers, who has gaily-painted fingernails, if we are both at the tea room across the street from the bank at the same time which happens often.

What's more local than that?

I was allowed to keep my account at this bank and another but after I showed them my Certificate of Loss of Nationality. I had to give up my American nationality to bank normally. Even then my bank called me to ask why I was sending $300 to my daughter in the US. They did accept my reason rather than close my account.

That bank employee, too, was apologetic and vented her anger at the US for all they had to go thru and the tremendous cost. Harassment of their legitimate clients by US decree, she termed it.

I am no fan of banks, but they are spending a fortune to do another country's bidding under bullying.

My husband could put his money into my account which creates a power structure that is not healthy for any marriage. Chances are I won't run away with a toy boy but if I die he would have no access to his own money, and although I am not planning my demise in the near future, this is not in my control.

I am waiting for an email from the gaily-nailed teller. She called and rattled off a long list of documents that he will need including proof of residence in the village where we live and copies of FBar filings, and probably his 1-12 grade report cards.

If this fails we've heard of another bank that has a department to deal with Americans but we've also heard of high fees. And unlike the false idea that all American expats living in Switzerland are wealthy tax cheats, we are neither. 

Meanwhile the safari for a bank account continues.

No comments: