De Voxbank was not allowed to close the bank accounts of the so-called ‘American by accident’. This is what the District Court of the Federal Netherlands ruled in the proceedings on the merits between a man and de Volskbank. Bank accounts were closed because the person did not want to provide specific information and was evading taxes in the United States. In a nutshell, a year ago, the bank was right. The court has now ruled otherwise Of Volksbank There is no need to request relevant information. The person was not found to have committed tax evasion.
An ‘unintentional American’ is someone who has both Dutch and American nationality and has no connection with the United States. In this case, it was because the man was born in the United States, but only lived there for the first year of his life. ‘Unsuspecting Americans’ must file tax returns in the United States. For this they need a US ID. Financial institutions such as de Volksbank in the Netherlands should send this number to the United States along with other data. This is done by Dutch tax authorities. In this case the person asked for an identification number and refused to give it to de Voxbank. Since he has no connection with the United States, he considers it unfair to file a tax return there. He too will have to pay a lot for it. When de Voxbank closed its accounts, he went to court. Last year, a preliminary relief judge allowed de Volksbank to close its accounts in preliminary relief proceedings.
Limit up to $ 50,000
Dutch banks do not require US citizens’ bank accounts (including those of ‘unidentified Americans’) to hold up to $ 50,000. At trial, it turned out that the person’s accounts came under that exception. So De Volksbank does not need its identification number to comply with the law. Although the person must apply for such an ID number in the United States and file a tax return there, he does not have to send the number to de Voxbank.
De Voxbank account was also closed because the person was (indirectly) tax evading and therefore involved in money laundering. The court sees it differently. The fact that the man has to file a tax return in the United States does not mean that he actually has to pay taxes. Statistics from US officials show that only a small fraction of ‘accidental Americans’ actually pay taxes there. It is up to De Voxbank to prove that this man falls under that small group. The bank did not do that. De Voxbank has been barred by a court from suspending its services to that person. That means the accounts must remain open.
ECLI: NL: RBMNE: 2021: 6267
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