More than a year ago, the IRS announced that they had 77’000 banks cooperating with them for FATCA. Robert Wood wrote on that and a bunch of other scary IRS facts for citizens abroad. (Really, $10’000 for a non-willful FBAR mistake?)
Today, July 18, 2015, the searchable list of Foreign Financial Institutions numbers 168’239 funds or institutions. The UK alone boasts 23’568 – the first hit being “Mrs E M Brown Grandchildren’s Settlement.” Other notable entries there: “17th Earl of Pembroke W/T -Lady Pembroke” and “Lord Clinton’s Marriage Settlement – Lady Clinton’s Fund.” It appears that every fund that wants US investments in its portfolio needs to register with the IRS – and you know that means forms. Reams of forms, to the tune of several tens of thousand a year, and even more potential data from the institutions that register. And these forms probably can’t be e-filed, so a few of the roughly 95’000 IRS employees probably get to type those forms into a database and file them in a drawer somewhere. Assuming 40’000 filings a year, with 9 pages per form printed out single-sided, that’s about five kitchen stoves worth of paper volume just for the registrations. Of course, these registrations are chump change compared to the number of filings each year. How do they keep track of all the information they’re gathering?
What bugs me most about the list of Swiss institutions is that the pension fund I formerly used to use, one that converts part of the savings into a fund, is of course registered here, because they also trade with US shares. But they’ve bumped me out, because I’m a US citizen and not worth their having to actually keep tabs on me. (I’m still uncertain whether these tax-deferred voluntary pension schemes are even a good idea at all, just because the US probably doesn’t view them as eligible for any sort of tax deferment.)
So with all these hassles, I’m curious to see if I can even open a bank account in Ellie’s name before getting her registered with Social Security, because Postfinance (and pretty much every other Swiss bank) requires US citizens to fill out a W-9 form that allows them to share information with the IRS when requested. And of course that form requires a Social Security Number…
At any rate, there will be two more accounts on our FBAR next year. And for Janet’s sake, I hope that the IRS finally implement a copy-paste function within the PDF document for filing the FBAR, so she doesn’t have to re-type the Postfinance address a dozen times.