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  #21  
Old 27.04.2012, 13:35
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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The Swiss government requires foreign students here to show financial means of supporting themselves by using a bank present in Switzerland, yet they block us from opening Swiss accounts. Awesome.
write your congress(wo)man and complain. They are to blame...
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  #22  
Old 27.04.2012, 13:40
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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Today I went to open a student account at Zürcher Kantonalbank and was told that as a US citizen I am no longer allowed to open any accounts with them. They said the practice is new and in response to how many difficulties they have had with US citizens opening Swiss accounts and evading US taxes.

The representative said that most all other Swiss banks are also blocking accounts for US citizens regardless of having a residence permit. The exception seems to be PostFinance with the Swiss Post.

The Swiss government requires foreign students here to show financial means of supporting themselves by using a bank present in Switzerland, yet they block us from opening Swiss accounts. Awesome.
Justin, as has been mentioned in this and other threads on the subject, the fault lies not with Swiss banks or the Swiss government, but rather with Uncle Sam. Thanks to FATCA, a US citizen now represents too much expense and liability to a foreign bank; the cold hard business case is that for most foreign banks 'normal' US citizens are no longer worth the trouble they bring.

Direct your anger to the source - the US government and it's misguided, half-baked new laws. These laws hurt American interests abroad, and ultimately the American economy.

Please write your senator and congress person, please write the Americans Abroad caucus: http://aaro.org/lobbying/americans-abroad-caucus

And please tell your story to ACA:

http://www.aca.ch/joomla/index.php

I'll say it again: we 'normal' Americans living abroad have to get the word out. Only by getting our stories out, only by convincing the US public and politicians that the vast majority of American expats are upstanding, tax-compliant citizens, will we ever get a fair hearing on this issue.

.

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  #23  
Old 27.04.2012, 13:48
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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Today I went to open a student account at Zürcher Kantonalbank and was told that as a US citizen I am no longer allowed to open any accounts with them. They said the practice is new and in response to how many difficulties they have had with US citizens opening Swiss accounts and evading US taxes.

The representative said that most all other Swiss banks are also blocking accounts for US citizens regardless of having a residence permit. The exception seems to be PostFinance with the Swiss Post.

The Swiss government requires foreign students here to show financial means of supporting themselves by using a bank present in Switzerland, yet they block us from opening Swiss accounts. Awesome.
About "The Swiss government requires foreign students here to show financial means of supporting themselves by using a bank present in Switzerland, yet they block us from opening Swiss accounts. Awesome"

I do not see how the Swiss government are involved?
In fact PostFinance which is Govt. controlled continues to offer accounts?

Problem seems to be the US Govt. creating more & more regulations & making it more & more difficult for US citizens when abroad?
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Old 27.04.2012, 14:22
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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. Thanks to FATCA, a US citizen now represents too much expense and liability to a foreign bank; the cold hard business case is that for most foreign banks 'normal' US citizens are no longer worth the trouble they bring..
To put this into perspective - the banks' USD depositary accounts in the US could be frozen because someone misreported under FATCA. No institution in its right mind is going to assume that risk.
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Old 27.04.2012, 14:33
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

Just wrote my letter and sent it to my Congressman and Senators. Unfortunately, nothing will happen in time to resolve the particular problem I am experiencing, but hopefully they'll see that setting a law for the Mitt Romneys of the world and how it affects the little people isn't good for business or foreign policy.
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Old 28.04.2012, 12:29
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

Just to add to this, for those around the Zurich area, ACA has organised a Town Hall event with US ambassador Beyer, your chance to get your point heard. It takes place 9 May in Zurich at American Womens Club, see www.aca.ch for more details.


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Justin, as has been mentioned in this and other threads on the subject, the fault lies not with Swiss banks or the Swiss government, but rather with Uncle Sam. Thanks to FATCA, a US citizen now represents too much expense and liability to a foreign bank; the cold hard business case is that for most foreign banks 'normal' US citizens are no longer worth the trouble they bring.

Direct your anger to the source - the US government and it's misguided, half-baked new laws. These laws hurt American interests abroad, and ultimately the American economy.

Please write your senator and congress person, please write the Americans Abroad caucus: http://aaro.org/lobbying/americans-abroad-caucus

And please tell your story to ACA:

http://www.aca.ch/joomla/index.php

I'll say it again: we 'normal' Americans living abroad have to get the word out. Only by getting our stories out, only by convincing the US public and politicians that the vast majority of American expats are upstanding, tax-compliant citizens, will we ever get a fair hearing on this issue.

.
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  #27  
Old 30.04.2012, 02:53
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Just wrote my letter and sent it to my Congressman and Senators. Unfortunately, nothing will happen in time to resolve the particular problem I am experiencing, but hopefully they'll see that setting a law for the Mitt Romneys of the world and how it affects the little people isn't good for business or foreign policy.
I always wondered how that would help. As a US non-resident who is not liable to any state or other local taxes:

1) Which congressmen or senators do you write to?
2) What interest would they have in your complaint if you do not vote in their state?

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Today I went to open a student account at Zürcher Kantonalbank and was told that as a US citizen I am no longer allowed to open any accounts with them. They said the practice is new and in response to how many difficulties they have had with US citizens opening Swiss accounts and evading US taxes.

The representative said that most all other Swiss banks are also blocking accounts for US citizens regardless of having a residence permit. The exception seems to be PostFinance with the Swiss Post.

The Swiss government requires foreign students here to show financial means of supporting themselves by using a bank present in Switzerland, yet they block us from opening Swiss accounts. Awesome.
I went to open an account with Banque Cantonale Vaudoise back in 2010 and it took about 2-3 weeks to get things right (my US passport caused the delay).

Late last year I opened an investment account with Basler Kantonalbank (kick ass flat trading fees of 30 CHF, best I've seen in Switzerland so far). Lady was mentioning that my US citizenship would be an issue, but when I mentioned I had a C Permit, she didn't see an issue (speaking German always helps!)

As of right now I have 6 accounts with different Swiss Cantonal Banks and have received nothing in the mail concerning limitations or new rules for US citizens. I do have another non-EU passport however, so I guess if things get too crazy with these new regulations, I could switch my accounts to my other passport .

Or wait until the CH passport comes in

Last edited by jrspet; 30.04.2012 at 03:10. Reason: Merging of successive posts
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  #28  
Old 30.04.2012, 08:19
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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I do have another non-EU passport however, so I guess if things get too crazy with these new regulations, I could switch my accounts to my other passport .

Or wait until the CH passport comes in
Only if you lie about the US citizenship. You will be asked, regardless of which passport you present to them, and if you go that route you're committing fraud...
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  #29  
Old 30.04.2012, 08:55
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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Only if you lie about the US citizenship. You will be asked, regardless of which passport you present to them, and if you go that route you're committing fraud...
I was wondering about this--if a Swiss-born who also has a U.S. passport opens an account at a Swiss bank and is NOT asked if he is a U.S. citizen, is this considered fraud if he does not disclose this information? I can't imagine that banks will ask every prospective customer whether they have U.S. citizenship or not. Or, perhaps they will.
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Old 30.04.2012, 10:25
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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I was wondering about this--if a Swiss-born who also has a U.S. passport opens an account at a Swiss bank and is NOT asked if he is a U.S. citizen, is this considered fraud if he does not disclose this information? I can't imagine that banks will ask every prospective customer whether they have U.S. citizenship or not. Or, perhaps they will.
These days all Swiss banks present a form asking you to declare your "US Person Status" before opening an account. This was clearly not the case years ago, which raises the question on how the US will have access to accounts of US citizens who opened them in the past on another passport (I have met quite a few).

In any event, I am having trouble seeing how this could be defined as fraud. The legal definition of fraud is the use of (1) intentionally deceptive information for (2) personal gain.

I fail to see how simply being able to open an account, a basic necessity for survival anywhere and arguably a human right, can be construed as a personal gain under the definition of fraud. I presume the sensible alternative is for US citizens in Switzerland to receive cash payments in letter envelopes, perhaps directly from the Cantonal governments after tax and social payments are held back if they can't even open accounts to receive their salaries (I'm sure the IRS would love that).

Also, there is no international convention that governs or regulates multiple citizenships; hence it is not illegal to have different identities in different passports (the US recognizes that it's citizens can have multiple nationalities, but has laws which do not accept those passports, starting when clearing immigration and border points).

Hence a US citizen with another passport (and name and identity) with a Swiss account on that other passport would fall outside the scope of FBAR/FATCA from the Swiss point of view. And the day the US starts prying into the accounts of individuals registered with non-US passports comes around, that will be the day when all hell will break loose and you can kiss FATCA goodbye as you would have reciprocal actions from all sides.
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Old 30.04.2012, 10:38
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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These days all Swiss banks present a form asking you to declare your "US Person Status" before opening an account. This was clearly not the case years ago, which raises the question on how the US will have access to accounts of US citizens who opened them in the past on another passport (I have met quite a few).

In any event, I am having trouble seeing how this could be defined as fraud. The legal definition of fraud is the use of (1) intentionally deceptive information for (2) personal gain.
Why would a US person not use his / her US passport when opening an account if not for (1).

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I fail to see how simply being able to open an account, a basic necessity for survival anywhere and arguably a human right,
A human right?!

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Hence a US citizen with another passport (and name and identity) with a Swiss account on that other passport would fall outside the scope of FBAR/FATCA from the Swiss point of view. And the day the US starts prying into the accounts of individuals registered with non-US passports comes around, that will be the day when all hell will break loose and you can kiss FATCA goodbye as you would have reciprocal actions from all sides.
US starts prying into accounts of US citizens regardless of the passport they were registered with. Considering a) they have the right to do this, b) they already do this and c) the potential consequence for the banks (what if someone registered with a dual passport eventually comes up and turns him/herself in voluntarily to the IRS - it has happened), most if not all will eventually shun US citizens or anyone with the most tenuous US connection (oh wait they already do).
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  #32  
Old 30.04.2012, 10:50
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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I always wondered how that would help. As a US non-resident who is not liable to any state or other local taxes:

1) Which congressmen or senators do you write to?
2) What interest would they have in your complaint if you do not vote in their state?
As a US Citizen you have the right to vote and the right to representation. Contact the ACA for more info. http://www.aca.ch/joomla/index.php

I maintained my residence in Fairfax County, Virginia, which was no easy task, as they kept trying to push me out saying I didn't live there anymore, which was true. With a bit of documentation that I reside abroad, legally they have to allow me to maintain my residence there, because I did not move to another state. They struggle with civilian expats though, because they're more accustomed to dealing with military spouses or civil servants working overseas. My own case was helped by the fact that I maintained strong ties to Fairfax County.

If you don't have strong ties to the US, but you are a US Citizen, I think it would be harder to have your rights upheld or to get the attention of your representatives. That's where ACA can help you.
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I do have another non-EU passport however, so I guess if things get too crazy with these new regulations, I could switch my accounts to my other passport .

Or wait until the CH passport comes in
You're still a US citizen subject to US laws and regulations, including FATCA and the responsibility to file a US tax return each year. Having other nationalities will not excuse you from this liability, and therefore Swiss banks still will need to know about your US citizenship. Omission is still fraud if you do not tell them.

The fair way to get around this liability is to renounce your US citizenship, which for you will be easy, since you have another citizenship to fall back on. It's your choice if you want not to be American though.
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Old 30.04.2012, 13:26
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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You're still a US citizen subject to US laws and regulations, including FATCA and the responsibility to file a US tax return each year. Having other nationalities will not excuse you from this liability, and therefore Swiss banks still will need to know about your US citizenship. Omission is still fraud if you do not tell them.

The fair way to get around this liability is to renounce your US citizenship, which for you will be easy, since you have another citizenship to fall back on. It's your choice if you want not to be American though.
Yes but if you omit US citizenship when opening a Swiss account, how would the US government find out or how would a Swiss bank even know? My name in my US passport could be John Smith and my name on my other passport could be Abdullah Aziz. Technically, and legally speaking, I can be two different entities.

The only possible way to link both identitiies beyond a reasonable doubt would be via fingerprint sharing. It would theoretically be possible with biometric databases these days for many, but not all, passports (Swiss banks do not collect fingerprints anyway), but I doubt a Swiss Bank would ever handover information on the identities and accounts of non-US citizens to the IRS. Such a move would be total suicide as the the entire Swiss Banking industry would collapse without its secrecy.
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Old 30.04.2012, 13:37
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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Yes but if you omit US citizenship when opening a Swiss account, how would the US government find out or how would a Swiss bank even know? My name in my US passport could be John Smith and my name on my other passport could be Abdullah Aziz. Technically, and legally speaking, I can be two different entities.
Technically yes, legally no (if you manage to get a different passport in a different name, I'm wondering who sold it as "legal" to you). How would the US government know? Simples. What passport do you use upon entering the US? Are your IRS dues up to date? In case they aren't, they will ask Switzerland if Mr John Smith DOB such-and-such domiciled at such-and-such has an account and if yes which bank is it held in.

But I admire your inventiveness.
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Old 30.04.2012, 14:07
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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Yes but if you omit US citizenship when opening a Swiss account, how would the US government find out or how would a Swiss bank even know?
This was mainly what I was wondering. Suppose a dual US/Swiss citizen keeps a set of accounts at one bank, which they disclose all information to the US/IRS. But then suppose they receive an inheritance here in Switzerland and do not want to disclose this to the US. Couldn't they just open an account at another Swiss bank, using their Swiss passport and never disclose this amount to the US? This is a Swiss inheritance, given to a Swiss-born and the US should have no right to any taxes on this money. I don't think the US/IRS is going to go around asking if 'Joe Smith', who is disclosing his information at Bank A, has an account at Bank B or C. I don't see how they would have the resources to do this. Or, perhaps I am underestimating the IRS?
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Old 30.04.2012, 14:34
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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This was mainly what I was wondering. Suppose a dual US/Swiss citizen keeps a set of accounts at one bank, which they disclose all information to the US/IRS. But then suppose they receive an inheritance here in Switzerland and do not want to disclose this to the US. Couldn't they just open an account at another Swiss bank, using their Swiss passport and never disclose this amount to the US? This is a Swiss inheritance, given to a Swiss-born and the US should have no right to any taxes on this money. I don't think the US/IRS is going to go around asking if 'Joe Smith', who is disclosing his information at Bank A, has an account at Bank B or C. I don't see how they would have the resources to do this. Or, perhaps I am underestimating the IRS?
I don't think I would take the risk...if you want to be a US citizen, you have to follow the rules, oder? Mentioning that they don't want to disclose the info to the US implies that they know this is not the correct route to follow, doesn't it? (i realize this is a hypothetical situation but it is interesting to consider all the different scenarios).

I just assume that the US knows a lot more than I realize! Although I am not sure if I have been always 100% correct in reporting accounts (ones I thought were only in my husband's name or something similar). It is a PITA! Speaking of which, I should do my taxes and send in those FACTA forms before June arrives
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Old 30.04.2012, 14:45
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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I don't think I would take the risk...if you want to be a US citizen, you have to follow the rules, oder? Mentioning that they don't want to disclose the info to the US implies that they know this is not the correct route to follow, doesn't it? (i realize this is a hypothetical situation but it is interesting to consider all the different scenarios).

I just assume that the US knows a lot more than I realize! Although I am not sure if I have been always 100% correct in reporting accounts (ones I thought were only in my husband's name or something similar). It is a PITA! Speaking of which, I should do my taxes and send in those FACTA forms before June arrives
I know--you're right. I've just been thinking about all the 'what ifs' lately. And there just seem to be too many rules with being a US citizen, when not even living over there. Makes me wonder if we stay here permanently, if it's worth keeping up with all this.
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Old 30.04.2012, 14:50
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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Technically yes, legally no (if you manage to get a different passport in a different name, I'm wondering who sold it as "legal" to you). How would the US government know? Simples. What passport do you use upon entering the US? Are your IRS dues up to date? In case they aren't, they will ask Switzerland if Mr John Smith DOB such-and-such domiciled at such-and-such has an account and if yes which bank is it held in.

But I admire your inventiveness.
Where in US law is it illegal to hold a foreign passport under a different name? The US has never seen my other passport and there are no international agreements to even enforce this (I can decide to change my name in my foreign passport via legal avenues tomorrow and keep my US name in my US passport; no laws that prohibit this). In the world of non-EU 3rd world countries, DOBs can be "officially changed" in foreign birth certificates and foreign passports. Where does US law prohibit that?
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Old 30.04.2012, 15:09
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

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Where in US law is it illegal to hold a foreign passport under a different name? The US has never seen my other passport and there are no international agreements to even enforce this (I can decide to change my name in my foreign passport via legal avenues tomorrow and keep my US name in my US passport; no laws that prohibit this).
I am going to rephrase this for you to make it real simples. You are travelling to the US and are required by law to enter with your US passport. The US has your flight details in advance (i.e. 48 hours) and your details via APIS - and if Mr. Abdullah Aziz has boarded the flight but strangely is the only one missing on arrival, they'll come and ask Mr. John Smith if he is per chance acquainted with one Abdullah Aziz. Especially if Mr. Abdullah Aziz has a US place of birth

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In the world of non-EU 3rd world countries, DOBs can be "officially changed" in foreign birth certificates and foreign passports. Where does US law prohibit that?
US law doesn't prohibit that. Did you try to settle anywhere or open a bank account with a 3rd world "legal" passport in order to actually road-test your hypothesis? Did you also test changing POB on a 3rd world passport?
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Old 30.04.2012, 15:13
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Re: New Swiss banking regulations for U.S. citizens

If you are interested in how the swiss banks and/or IRS will find or identify US persons, have a look through their 388 pages of the most recent proposed regulations for FATCA issued in Feb. 2012 http://www.irs.gov/pub/newsroom/reg-121647-10.pdf . Further regs. are expected in summer.

The regs. require the FFI to use 'due diligence' in identifying US persons and accounts. Further, there are different procedures as to 'preexisting accounts' vs. new accounts, often with threshold triggers and jumping through some hoops for 'preexisting accounts'.

I think most of the 'clever ideas' proposed on this thread have already been clearly thought out by the IRS though this and previous FATCA regs.

In essence, the foreign entities (ie. swiss banks) will be triggered by US indica, as follows:
(A) U.S. Indicia. For purposes of the account identification procedures described in this paragraph (c), an account holder is treated as having U.S. indicia if the information required to be reviewed by the FFI with respect to the account includes any of the following:
(1) Identification of an account holder as a U.S. resident or citizen;
(2) U.S. place of birth;
(3) U.S. resident address or U.S. mailing address (including a U.S. post office box);
(4) U.S. telephone number;
(5) Standing instructions to transfer funds to an account maintained in the United States;
(6) Power of attorney or signatory authority granted to a person with a U.S. address; or
(7) An "in-care-of" address or "hold mail" address that is the sole address the FFI has identified for the account holder.

(B) Documentation required for U.S. indicia. For all accounts holders having one or more of the U.S. indicia described in paragraph (c)(4)(i)(A) of this section, a participating FFI is required to obtain the documentation described in paragraphs (c)(4)(i)(B)(1) through (5), applicable to the type of U.S. indicia, to establish whether the account is a U.S. account.

(1) If the account holder is identified as a U.S. resident or citizen, the participating FFI must request a Form W-9 and a valid and effective waiver as described in section 1471(b)(1)(F)(i), if necessary, from the account holder.

(2) If the account holder information unambiguously indicates a U.S. place of birth, the participating FFI must request either a Form W-9 and a valid and effective waiver described in section 1471(b)(1)(F)(i), if necessary, or a Form W-8BEN and a non-U.S. passport or other government-issued identification evidencing citizenship in a country other than the United States.
In addition, to establish the foreign status of any account holder with a U.S. place of birth, the participating FFI must obtain a copy of the individual’s Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States or Form I-407, or a reasonable explanation of the account holder’s renunciation of U.S. citizenship or the reason the account holder did not obtain U.S. citizenship at birth.............

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