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Immigration Law

Why 'Accidental Americans' Are Desperate to Give Up Their U.S. Citizenship

Vivienne Walt, TIME Magazine, Dec. 23, 2020

"Other than Eritrea, the U.S. is the only country in the world with citizenship tax rules, demanding that all Americans—including anyone born in the U.S.—submit yearly tax filings to the Internal Revenue Service, no matter where they live. And since 2010, when the U.S. introduced the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, all the world’s banks have been obligated to begin reporting on the activities of their American customers. ... “The impact on people’s lives has been enormous,” says Marc Zell, a U.S. lawyer in Israel. “People cannot get mortgages. They cannot get bank loans for businesses,” he says. “Many do not even know they are American.” Now, lawsuits filed on both sides of the Atlantic are seeking to redress the situation. On Tuesday organizations representing Americans in Europe filed complaints against Luxembourg and Belgium’s governments, demanding they immediately stop transferring European citizens’ personal banking information to the U.S.—something they say violates strict European and national privacy laws. The complaints are a prelude to formal lawsuits in the courts. Zell sued the State Department in early December, on behalf of 20 accidental Americans whose lives have been upturned by FATCA. Other legal challenges say it might be in violation of the European Union’s data-protection laws, and perhaps also a violation of the U.S. constitution."