WASHINGTON Dec 6 The United States and Ireland
have agreed to share information about wealthy citizens'
financial accounts in a pact intended to combat tax evasion,
another in a series of bilateral deals announced in recent weeks
by the U.S. Treasury Department.
The deals are part of the implementation of the U.S. Foreign
Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, which takes effect in
An agreement with Switzerland has been "initialed," with
final terms expected in coming days, Treasury said on Tuesday.
The United States has completed FATCA deals with the UK,
Denmark and Mexico. Spain has also "initialed" with Treasury,
the department said on Thursday.
Enacted in 2010, FATCA requires foreign financial
institutions to tell the U.S. Internal Revenue Service about
Americans' offshore accounts worth more than $50,000.
Banks, funds and other institutions failing to comply could
effectively be forced out of U.S. financial markets.
Separately on Thursday, IRS Acting Commissioner Steven
Miller highlighted FATCA as a "tool" that has compelled
delinquent taxpayers with hidden assets abroad to enter a
voluntary disclosure program at IRS.
FATCA has come under fire from Americans with foreign
financial accounts because they are accustomed to secrecy.
Foreign financial institutions have complained, too, about
compliance costs and the law's intrusion, especially in
countries where banking secrecy has been a part of the financial
Despite the controversy, the IRS' disclosure program has
collected $5.5 billion. It continues to receive 75 to 150
applications a week from people seeking to enter the program,
Miller said at a tax conference speech in Washington.
The program will remain open, but will be less sympathetic
to new applicants going forward, he said.
The government-to-government FATCA deals are a pragmatic
approach to enforcing the U.S. tax dragnet, experts have said.
"FATCA is doing its job," said Nicole Tichon, executive
director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tax Justice Network, in
an email. "FATCA is stemming the race to the bottom in terms of
Miller also said he would consider merging a taxpayer's
FATCA compliance with an older, similar statute known as the
Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
The FBAR form, which is due annually, is required of any
U.S. person who has a financial interest or signature authority
over foreign financial accounts whose value topped $10,000 at
any time during the calendar year.