FATCA me if you can: Hong Kong should learn from Israel

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Israeli politicians occasionally risk the ire of their American allies. Some have successfully challenged legislation in court to slow the implementation of FATCA-related legislation. Watch and learn, Hong Kong.


 

As the United States continues to bring country after country to their knees to comply with its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a proactive local business and political sector in Israel has moved to resist regulators in Washington.

In early November, the Republican Overseas Israel/Republican Abroad Israel launched a successful lobbying effort against the Israel Tax Authority’s bill to implement FATCA’s automatic data transfer and mass privacy waiver provisions and brought it to a halt- for now. The vote by the Knesset Plenum (the Israeli parliament) was postponed and its Finance Committee agreed that the legislation should be reviewed in a manner that would allow the US-Israeli taxpaying public to voice their concerns before it is tabled to the committee some time next year.

“The Finance Committee’s decision to amend the Tax Authority’s bill reflects a serious concern about protecting citizens rights’ of privacy in personal data,” stated Mr Marc Zell, who represented the Republican Overseas Israel/Republican Abroad Israel in the fight.

Mr Zell quoted Finance Committee Chairman, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, who said: “We are different from the rest of the world. We are very sensitive about this matter, because we are concerned that foreign tax authorities may be seeking this information for improper purposes.”

Most of the world, Hong Kong included, has implemented FATCA requirements as a necessary, if unwelcome, price to pay for participating in a global financial  system where America plays a dominant role. However, the Israeli case shows at least one jurisdiction is  making an efforts to address the concerns of its citizens about this intrusive, globe-spanning regulatory regulatory burden.

 

Read our previous Op-Ed on the topic.