The U.K.’s Daily Telegraph reports that British banks may turn away any America clients as a result of an Administration proposal to modify the already-onerous Qualified Intermediary rules and make them even worse. This makes life more difficult for overseas Americans, which will compromise the competitiveness of U.S. firms trying to win market share around the world. It also will discourage foreign financial institutions from investing in America since pulling out of the U.S. market is an easy way to get out from under the IRS’s unfair extraterritorial regulatory reach.
British banks and stockbrokers may refuse to take on American clients if new international tax proposals outlined by President Obama are passed. The decision, which would make it hard for Americans in London to open bank accounts and trade shares, is being discussed by executives at Britain’s banks and brokers who say it could become too expensive to service American clients. The proposals, which were unveiled as part of the president’s first budget, are designed to clamp-down on American tax evaders abroad. However bank bosses say they are being asked to take on the task of collecting American taxes at a cost and legal liability that are inexpedient. …One executive at a top UK bank who didn’t want to be named for fear of angering the IRS said: “It’s just about manageable under the current system - and that’s because we’re big. The danger to us is suddenly being hauled over the coals by the IRS for a client that hasn’t paid proper taxes. The audit costs will soar. We’ll have to pay it but I know plenty of smaller players won’t.” The British Bankers Association (BBA) and APCIMS had a meeting with European counterparts 10 days ago to discuss the crisis. A delegation is set to meet the US Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service on 16th June to demand they drop the reforms. …President Obama’s proposals are built on the so-called Qualified Intermediary system which was intended to ensure Americans paid the correct tax wherever they were domiciled. Foreign financial institutions that handle American money have to fill in a US tax form on behalf of the client that has to be audited too.