The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which is part of the US Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act of 2010, aims to combat tax evasion by US tax residents using foreign accounts. It includes certain provisions on withholding taxes and requires financial institutions outside the US to pass information about their US customers to the US tax authorities, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS). Failure to meet these new reporting obligations would result in a 30% withholding tax on the financial institutions.
Draft US regulations setting out the implementation details were published in February 2012.
The FATCA provisions impose new and substantial burdens on UK businesses in identifying US taxpayers, and registering and reporting information to the IRS. Significantly for UK institutions the Data Protection Act precludes UK businesses from passing the required information to the US.
The government (along with France, Germany, Italy, and Spain) and with the support of the European Commission took part in joint discussions with the US government to explore an intergovernmental approach to FATCA, supporting the overall aim to combat tax evasion, while reducing risks and burdens on financial institutions. A model intergovernmental agreement (IGA) was developed and published in July 2012.
The UK and the US subsequently signed an IGA - the 'UK-US Agreement to Improve International Tax Compliance and to Implement FATCA' - in September 2012 (see the 'Current documents' section below).
The IGA reduces some of the administrative burden of complying with the US regulations, and provides a mechanism for UK financial institutions to comply with their obligations without breaching the data protection laws. Under the IGA, financial institutions pass information to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) who will then automatically exchange this information with the IRS.
The IGA has changed since it was signed, in that Annex II has been updated by a mutual agreement entered into between the competent authorities of the UK and the US. The changes result in a wider scope of institutions and products effectively exempt from the FATCA requirements, and provide greater clarity on the categories of institutions which will be non-reporting UK financial institutions that are treated as deemed-compliant under the IGA.
Annex II of the IGA was amended by an Exchange of Notes between the two governments dated 3 June and 7 June 2013 (see the 'Current documents' section below).
On 12 July 2013 the US announced a delay of 6 months before the commencement of FATCA. The effect of this delay is that there will be no reporting with regard to 2013, and all current deadlines for undertaking due diligence etc will be pushed back by 6 months.
regulations laid on 7 August 2013 (Opens new window)
These regulations come into force on 1 September 2013.
Guidance published on 14 August 2013
This version of the guidance supersedes any versions previously published.
You can find further detailed information from the links below.
The government has stated that it will look to sign further Agreements with other jurisdictions as part of their commitment to combat tax evasion. The Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) and the British Overseas Territories (the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat and Gibraltar) have all agreed to enter into automatic tax information exchange agreements with the UK.
All the Crown Dependencies have entered into automatic tax information exchange agreements with the UK.
The UK and the Isle of Man signed an IGA - the 'UK-Isle of Man Agreement to Improve International Tax Compliance' - on 10 October 2013. This was the first agreement of this type to be signed and published where neither party was the USA.
Guernsey and Jersey signed IGAs with the UK on 22 October 2013 - the 'UK-Guernsey Agreement to Improve International Tax Compliance' and the 'UK-Jersey Agreement to Improve International Tax Compliance'.
The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar signed an IGA with the UK on 21 November 2013 - the 'UK-Gibraltar Agreement to Improve International Tax Compliance'.
These four agreements are reciprocal, meaning that UK Financial Institutions will have to provide data on financial accounts held by residents of these territories. The UK will be bringing in regulations to implement these arrangements in 2014, these will be published in draft later this year. Selected areas of draft guidance have already been published to give clarity on key differences in scope between the regulations for reporting on US account holders, and account holders from the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey or Gibraltar. Further guidance relating to issues specific to these Agreements will be published in later this year.
UK-Isle of Man Agreement to Improve
International Tax Compliance (PDF 202K)
UK-Guernsey Agreement to Improve International Tax Compliance (PDF 207K)
UK-Jersey Agreement to Improve International Tax Compliance (PDF 211K)
UK-Gibraltar Agreement to Improve International Tax Compliance (PDF 207K)
On 5 November the UK and the Cayman Islands signed the first IGA between the UK and an Overseas Territory - the 'UK-Cayman Agreement to Improve International Tax Compliance'. Bermuda, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands all signed IGAs with the UK in London during the week of the Joint Ministerial Council (w/c 25 November).
The agreements with these territories are non-reciprocal, meaning that UK financial institutions will not have any reporting obligations under the terms of the agreements.
The government has published a discussion document containing a model Agreement for the automatic exchange of information to improve international tax compliance that the UK is currently negotiating with the Crown Dependencies (CDs) and Overseas Territories (OTs). The Agreement is the current model of an inter-governmental agreement between the UK and an 'IGA Counterparty' for reciprocal exchange of information. The discussion is on the implementation by the UK of those agreements to be entered into with the CDs.
Following the announcement by the US of a delay of 6 months before the commencement of US FATCA on the 12 July 2013 the UK government has announced that this revised timeline will also apply to similar agreements signed with the CDs and OTs.
This means that any commitments for UK financial institutions will now commence as of 30 June 2014. Only accounts in existence on or after this date will be subject to reporting and 2014 will be the first year that reporting covers.
On 9 April 2013 the government - along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain - also announced an agreement to develop and pilot multilateral tax information exchange based on the Model Intergovernmental Agreement to Improve International Tax Compliance and to Implement FATCA.
A joint letter was issued to the European Commission setting out the terms of the agreement.
Following this announcement the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories have announced their commitment to engage in this pilot for multilateral exchange. You can read about the first announcement made on 2 May 2013, from the link below.
Details on future agreements will be published on this page.