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The highlights of FATCA

  • US anti-avoidance legislation (FATCA) imposes obligations on banks outside the US if they provide banking services to individuals with US citizenship or ties to America.
  • The aim is to detect and discourage tax fraud by US taxpayers abroad.
  • This legislation has been in place for several years, but from 2021 onwards the obligations will become stricter.
  • From then on, banks may only provide banking services to people with US citizenship or specific ties to the US if the bank also has their US social security number.
  • Until 2020, this had not been necessary. Belgians with dual nationality, who have hardly or no ties with America anymore and often do not have such a number, also fall under this legislation.
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What does this mean for you?

If this applies to you, it is therefore important to have or apply for a US social security number and to report this to your bank as soon as possible. If you do not do so, and the bank cannot report all your data to the American authorities, the bank may be forced to block and close your bank account because they are obliged to do so by law.

You can apply for a social security number at the American embassy, but bear in mind that this procedure is complicated and can take a while. Do not wait too long with this. Be sure to ask your bank for information. They will be happy to help you.

Below you will find answers to the most important questions about FATCA.

What is FATCA?

Legislation that requires banks to disclose the identity and assets of their US customers. The aim is to detect and discourage tax evasion by US taxpayers abroad.

I have US citizenship, dual citizenship or specific ties to the US. What does FATCA mean for me?

Because of this regulation, you as a customer must provide certain information to the bank. The bank has most of the information (name, address, balance of accounts, interest received, etc.), but it is important that you provide your bank with a social security number as soon as possible. If you do not have one yet, it is best to apply for one as soon as possible.

What is a social security number?

A 'Social Security Number (SSN)' is comparable to the tax number in the country where you live. For Belgium, you can compare it with your national number. However, your Belgian national number is not sufficient. You need a social security number issued by the American authorities.

Can I obtain a social security number from my bank?

You must apply for a social security number at the American embassy or government. The bank can give you an explanation, but cannot make an application for you. The application can take some time. It is therefore important that you take action as soon as possible.

Another option, but this is often not the most desirable or easiest solution, is to surrender your American nationality. However, this too can be quite a complex undertaking and can take a considerable amount of time.

What happens if I do not provide a social security number?

If you do not provide a social security number, and the bank is therefore unable to report all the data about you, your bank will be obliged to block and close your bank account. After all, the banks have no choice but to comply with the legislation.

Can the bank refuse me as a customer with FATCA as motivation?

This legislation also applies to new customers with American nationality or specific ties with America. If you cannot provide the bank with the necessary data, then they must refuse you as a customer according to this legislation.

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