on this column, which I just got via my email subscription to the Expat Focus – Argentina group on Facebook. As a Uruguay resident-in-processing, I do try to keep up with what goes on next door in our “big sister”, Argentina, so I subscribe to it.
Well whether you are in Uruguay, Argentrina, Switzerland, Thailand, or Namibia, you may have yet another unpleasant surprise courtesy of Uncle Sam, if you are a “US Person” (a US citizen, or a US legal permanent resident):
(Uruguay Expat Life does not have an opinion on the services provided by the author of the linked article, which, while giving good information, is also soliciting customers of that author’s tax services. Caveat lector.)
Just freaking lovely. not only is it becoming damn near impossible to have a bank account in a non-US country as a US person, due to the USA’s draconian FATCA law which attempts, as did Imperial Rome, to extend the claws of its tax collectors worldwide. Now the blowback from that is making US-based financial firms, especially brokerage firms, close the accounts of US persons who live overseas. Because of reciprocity. Country X says, “OK Uncle Sam, we’ll report on the accounts of your citizen in our banks. But your citizen is also our legal resident and perhaps also our citizen – so for you to get what you want, you have to give us the exact same detail on every single penny in and out of her account at any bank or financial services firm in the USA. Because she may be hiding taxable income from us.”
So just like Discount Bank, Citibank, Santander, Banco Comercial, and all the other banks in Uruguay except Uruguay government-owned Banco República now refuse any US account, we could find that US persons with an account here get their US accounts closed.
Even though BROU reports back to the USA, if Uruguay decided it wanted the same thing, perhaps my no-fee no-minimum refund-ATM-fees “checking alternative” account at a brokerage firm might get closed by them, or my 6% interest on first $1000 at a credit union in my old community. The combination of those two are real benefits for me getting US money in Uruguay via free ATM withdrawals, and real interest from the other, with free transfers between them. It’s where Lisa’s and my US-based income from online freelance work and a small pension arrive. We let up to $1000 sit at 6% intereest until a couple of days before we need it, transfer it free to the brokerage checking, and can withdraw it for free – getting back any ATM surcharge the next day. No wires needed, no expensive transfers, plus Visa on one and MasterCard on the other as debit/ATM cards. We are by no means the only expats/immigrants using this type of strategy. Schwab, eTrade, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and others all have accounts like this.
We do, legitimately, also have a US address, and a room we use at a family member’s US home. That’s the address on file with the brokerage and the credit union. But if at some point in the future we don’t have that arrangement (job moves, marriages, babies, etc.), we originally hoped it would be no problem to simply change the address to here. Now, it well may be a problem. In some other countries, it already is.