updated 2:11 PM CET, Oct 31, 2023

Dutch news website picks up on anti-FATCA feeling in Europe

Image from Dutch Banking Association video in 2019, urging accidental Americans to get their TINs Image from Dutch Banking Association video in 2019, urging accidental Americans to get their TINs

An English-language news website based in Amsterdam has become the latest non-U.S. media organization to highlight the struggles that overseas-resident Americans – "accidental or otherwise", as it says in its headline – are having, in dealing with the U.S. tax evasion-prevention law known as FATCA. 

The article, published today in the features section of DutchNews.nl, an independent publishing company that was launched in 2006, says that what it calls "the infamous law" has caused "plenty of headaches for both Americans in the Netherlands...and the financial institutions they rely on". 

"If you’re an American living in the Netherlands, you may have already felt the impact," the article continues.

"Perhaps it was a stern letter from your bank, or maybe you’ve had trouble trying to hire a financial adviser?

"There’s a reason for that..." 

The reason, the article goes on to explain, is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, "also known as FATCA", which, though it had initially seemed "like a no-brainer for policymakers and tax authorities alike," has instead, since 2010, "created far more headaches for average and law-abiding Americans than white-collar criminals stuffing their ill-gotten millions into Swiss bank accounts." 

The article then goes on to mention such recent developments as the win, back in December, by retired KLM pilot Ronald Ariës of his case against his Dutch bank, which had sought to close his bank accounts if he failed to provide it with a U.S. tax identification number (TIN), because he happened to have been born in the U.S., even though he lived the rest of his life in the Netherlands; and the fact that FlatexDEGIRO AG had become "at least the third German financial institution to give Americans the boot over the past few years". 

"It isn't just banks on this side of the Atlantic that are doing this either," the article continues.

"According to a 2020 survey conducted by the Association of Americans Resident Overseas, 40% of those who responded said they were having trouble getting stateside accounts as well." 

The DutchNews.nl article quotes Democrats Abroad Taxation Task Force chair Rebecca Lammers; ABN Amro spokesperson Brigitte Seegers; BNC Tax and Accounting's Christie DuChateau; and Association of Accidental Americans founder Fabien Lehagre. 

Dutch banks more FATCA-
compliant than some others

As regular readers of the American Expat Financial News Journal will know, so-called "accidental Americans" living in the Netherlands have been struggling more than "accidentals" living in most other countries, as a result of the willingness of the Dutch banking industry and other financial services organizations to comply with FATCA. 

Accidental Americans – or, as one sometimes hears in the Netherlands, "unintentional Americans" – are terms used to describe citizens of countries other than the U.S. who, often unknown to them until recently, acquired U.S. citizenship as a result of either having been born in the United States, or by having had at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen at the time they were born.

In 2019, for example, the Dutch Banking Association posted an animated video on the home page of its website in which it sought to encourage, in a non-hostile way, American citizens resident in the Netherlands to get their U.S. Social Security numbers, if they didn't wish to risk losing their Dutch bank accounts. By January 2020, news began to emerge that "dozens" of Dutch bank customers were reporting that their bank accounts were being frozen and banking services otherwise being denied to them because of the fact that they had failed to provide these institutions, which considered them to be American citizens, with their U.S. TINs or SS numbers. 

Last year, the Dtuch government held the latest in an ongoing series hearings into the matter, but, as reported, many of the "accidentals" who participated came away unimpressed.