Thursday, January 23, 2014

Republicans Target FATCA As Another Windmill to Attack (1/23/14; revised 1/27/14)

Reuters reports that Republicans are setting their sights on trying to repeal FATCA.  See Patrick Temple-West, U.S. global tax law unhurt by Republicans: Treasury official (Reuters 1/22/14), here.  Excerpt:
The law - enacted after a scandal involving Americans hiding assets from the IRS in Swiss bank accounts - has been sharply criticized by banks, libertarians and some Americans living abroad as a costly and unneeded government overreach.
See also Alan Pyke, Why Are Republicans Plotting To Sabotage A Crackdown On Tax Evasion? (Think Progress 1/22/14), here.

This is just another instance of Republicans being Republicans, tilting at windmills. The concept of tilting at windmills is from  Cervantes' Don Quixote, The Ingenious Knight of La Mancha. first published in 1604.  See Tilting at windmills (The Phrase Finder Blog), here.  Don Quixotic imagines himself a fearless knight errant sallying forth in search of adventure.  On  his quest, he imagines windmills to be evil giants whom he attacks.  As reported in the Phrase Finder entry:
The figurative reference to tilting at windmills came a little later. John Cleveland published The character of a London diurnall in 1644 (a diurnall was, as you might expect, part-way between a diary or journal): 
"The Quixotes of this Age fight with the Wind-mills of their owne Heads." 
The full form of the phrase isn't used until towards the end of the 19th century; for example, in The New York Times, April 1870: 
"They [Western Republicans] have not thus far had sufficient of an organization behind them to make their opposition to the Committee's bill anything more than tilting at windmills."
Sound familiar?

Can't just stop there, though without mentioning the song "To Dream the Impossible Dream" from the musical Man of La Mancha.  (See Wikipedia entry here.)  The song is a romanticized version of Don Quixote's quest.  The lyrics are:
To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...
To right ... the unrightable wrong ...
To love ... pure and chaste from afar ...
To try ... when your arms are too weary ...
To reach ... the unreachable star ...  
This is my quest, to follow that star ...
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far ...
To fight for the right, without question or pause ...
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause ...  
And I know if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I'm laid to my rest ...
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach ... the unreachable star ...
 This is a great song in the right context where one's cause is righteous.  Now, whether the repeal of FATCA is the right context depends upon one's point of view.

Addendum 1/27/14:  I said that this adventure was just Republicans being Republicans.  As they say about politics, follow the money.  Reuters reports (Patrick Temple-West, Republicans bash U.S. law targeting offshore tax dodgers (Reuters 1/24/14), here.
Repeal is unlikely and the issue was not expected to resonate with average U.S. voters, said lobbyists on both ends of the political spectrum. But they said Republican opposition to the law could help the party raise campaign funds.
So, all readers and others who don't like FATCA, send your money to the Republican Party and it will tilt at windmills for you (or, more properly, for your money).


  1. To be righteous, discrimination must be avoided. FATCA does not avoid discrimination and thus it cannot be righteous, regardless of one's point of view.

  2. Bankers from Florida and Texas don't want FATCA if it leads to reciprocity and results in loss of foreign deposits in US banks.

  3. Hong Kong SAR of China, formerly Horng Kong RCC of Great Britain has long been an offshore banking and company formation center.

  4. I want FATCA to receive a bullet to the back of the head, and for congress to start over with a set of laws that catch the tax evaders they wish to catch WITHOUT burdening every non-US person on the face of the planet with the extra costs of enforcing US DOMESTIC tax laws. THAT would be righteous.

  5. The time to deal most effectively with this type of issue (as with Obamacare) was while the legislation was being considered by Congress. Those who absent themselves from that process will find that changing the law later is more difficult.

    Jack Townsend

  6. You are failing to see the bigger picture. I did not absent myself. I am not a US citizen or voter, so have no influence at all on what laws congress passes. I am however affected, since MY banking costs and charges in MY country will rise to comply with YOUR laws. Resentment in other countries towards the US is rising, and part of the reason is precisely this type of unilateral bullying.

    You might also reflect on whether congress ever 'considered' FATCA at all. It was slipped into a much larger bill late at night with no discussion. There has never been a cost-benefit analysis, and the whole thing was smuggled through in an overarching mom-and-apple-pie bill that nobody dared vote against. This is not 'consideration', it is 'steamrollering'.

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    (I have no inside information, am just reporting on public court records.)

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  11. On 2/10/2014 the report reporting on results (or lack thereof, actually) of the 1/28/2014 mediation conference was filed. It stated:

    "A mediation conference was held on January 28, 2014 with mediator Samuel Ullman. The parties did not reach a settlement, but a proposal made in writing shortly after the mediation session is still being considered by one of the parties."

  12. Subsequent to the 2/10/2014 report stating that a proposal was still being considered, there has been a motion for summary judgement (with about 20 exhibits!) and a motion in limine filed. As a nonlawyer I have no idea what this means. Are these the steps that would be taken to prepare for trial?

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