Thousand Belgians risk to lose their bank accounts because they were "accidentally born in the USA"

Belgian banks are obliged to provide the US tax authorities with data on Belgian customers born in the USA. However, not all Belgian clients born in the US have the necessary data. This is why in 2020 they face the threat of blocking their bank accounts and Belgian banks an extra tax of 30 percent on transactions between Belgium and the USA. 

Belgians born in the US are subject to so-called FATCA legislation. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act was passed by President Barack Obama in March 2010 and warmly welcomed all over the world.

The law obliges banks to forward financial information to the US tax authorities in order to prevent tax evasion by US citizens. Since 2015, Belgian banks have also been obliged to disclose bank details of customers who are US citizens.

The law also applies to Belgians who were born in the USA but who otherwise no longer have any relationship with the country. Because they are still considered Americans, they are now in danger of losing their bank accounts.

Paperwork

The new law obliges Belgian banks to send the data of these clients to the Belgian tax authority, which in turn sends it to the US tax authority. This procedure also applies in the opposite direction to Belgians living in the USA.

In addition to the account number and the BIC number of the Belgian financial institutions, the account balance, interest and dividends of the Belgian accounts must also be communicated.  Another figure to be dealt is the American Taxpayer Identification Number. However, citizens who were accidentally born in the USA often do not know it, therefore they are now threatened with blocking their Belgian accounts. Anyone wishing to request this number must undergo a lengthy and costly procedure.

Sanctions

If all the data needed for this procedure are not to be found in the file, people could in trouble. The US may decide to levy 30% tax on all payments from the US to this bank.

In order to avoid these sanctions, the Belgian banking sector has decided to block the bank accounts of customers whose data are incomplete by 2020.

There are few solutions available to those concerned: they can either apply for a social security number in the USA or surrender their US citizenship. Both procedures are lengthy and expensive.

In Belgium, around 1000 people are said to be affected by that law even though It is not known exactly how many people were "born accidentally in the USA and have no social security number".