TA: Some in the tax community object that the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act is a violation of taxpayer rights on an international scale. Do you agree?
Olson: I don't know how it could be a violation of rights on an international scale since every community has its own set of rights. That's part of the problem. To me, I think the jury is still out on what it is like under various European conventions and provisions. We just have to wait and see how it's thought about.
The problem with FATCA is that it imposes burdens on taxpayers at all sorts of levels, and it's not clear what benefits we're really going to get from it or what we'll be able to do.
My attention has been more on the foreign bank and financial account report and on the offshore voluntary disclosure arrangements. I could make a strong case that those violate many of our rights.
For example, under that disclosure initiative, there is a secret committee that reviews recommendations for what would be the settlement in a particular case. Taxpayers are not allowed to talk to anyone on that committee. They don't receive a detailed explanation of the decisions that the committee made. I can't say it's a violation because this is not a law, but it impairs the taxpayer's right to be informed and, ultimately, the sense that he is part of a fair and just tax system.