France’s ‘accidental Americans’ file new suit over bank refusals

'Accidental Americans' protested during the visit of the US President to France in 2018, to alert him to their situation. Photo: AFP
A group representing French-American taxpayers has filed a new lawsuit over US tax and bank rules they say prevent them from opening online banking accounts in France, their lawyer said Monday.

The civil suit aims to push a Paris court to designate a judge who would pursue an investigation into claims that French citizens are exposed to discrimination because of the far-reaching American rules, Antoine Vey told AFP.

The Accidental Americans Association (AAA) have been fighting for exemption from a US 2013 requirement that all citizens file extensive details on any foreign bank accounts together with their yearly revenue declarations – even if they have not lived or worked in the United States for years.

READ ALSO: Who are France's 'accidental Americans' and why are they suing big banks?

 

Many in France and elsewhere say that even if born in the US, they only lived there a few months or years as children, and should not be subject to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

Overseas banks face severe penalties if they do not comply with the information requests, and online banks in particular see the compliance costs as too high to justify the risk of taking on French-American clients.

'Accidental Americans' at a 2018 protest in front of the Statute of Liberty in Paris. Photo: AFP

Boursorama, an online subsidiary of France's Societe Generale group, “told us that it would cost it too much money”, AAA president Fabien Lehagre told AFP.

“Yet it spent €6 million six months ago to get Brad Pitt for an ad campaign – even though he can't even open an account with them,” he said.

Previous lawsuits, including one filed against France with the European Commission last October, have failed to prompt any official inquiries from prosecutors so far.

“You can't exclude someone because of their nationality,” Vey said. “It's clearly discriminatory.”

“I feel like the prosecutor's office has not understood the significance of an issue that affects nearly 10,000 people in France,” he said.


  1. Perhaps I am missing something here, but surely they can renounce their US citizenship if they have no intention of living in the US? That solves the problem.

  2. They can. But renouncing US citizenship costs $2350 plus an expatriation tax, and may take around a year. If you haven’t filed US tax returns for each of the previous 15 years, you may also be required to regularize that first.

  3. The only other country taxing its citizens like the US is Eritrea. I left the US for France, but unfortunately it would be too costly for me to expatriate. What was once a fairly good country to live in is now a terrible place. I wish the accidental Americans the best of luck in their struggle against the US empire.

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