A former United States diplomat has dismissed comments made by a “FATCA expert” and has advised that this country’s Parliament put the brakes on passing the legislation till there is word from the White House on whether it will be repealed.
James George Jatras, an analyst and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership, took issue with statements made by Denise Hintzke, global leader of the FATCA Initiative for auditing firm Deloitte & Touche LLP.
Hintzke spoke at the Bankers Association breakfast seminar on the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) last week.
She said there is no likelihood that United States President Donald Trump’s administration would repeal FATCA so Trinidad and Tobago must get its act together and ensure it complies with the law.
“That (repealing law) would actually take an act of our Congress. It’s not something that the President can do by executive order, so when you hear things about President Trump going to abolish FATCA that’s probably very unlikely,” she said.
In an e-mail exchange with the Express, Jatras stated that the expertise needed to comply with FATCA or any other law or regulation is very different from that of a legislative specialist in getting laws passed – or repealed.
“Persons who have little or no experience with the legislative process should stick to their areas of expertise,” he stated.
Gutsy move by Kamla
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar wrote to US President Trump questioning his regime’s position on FATCA.
“I think it would be best for Parliament to hold off on approving the legislation until there’s a response from the Trump administration,” stated Jatras in response to questions from the Express.
Jatras commended Persad-Bissessar’s move to write to Trump, stating that it could be a catalyst to stir the conversation on FATCA as the new administration gets its house in order.
Jatras wrote an opinion piece in the popular The Hill publication, where he highlighted Persad-Bissessar’s “gutsy” move.
He stated to the Express that Trump himself cannot repeal FATCA as this must be done by Congress.
“This year, with united Republican control of the US government, there will be a major tax reform package approved by Congress, and Trump will sign it into law. A major push is about to begin to ensure FATCA repeal is part of that package,” stated Jatras.
He added that while Trump cannot repeal FATCA by himself, he could revoke the statutorily unauthorised so-called “intergovernmental agreements” (IGAs) that T&T is being demanded to sign under threat of sanctions.
“Without the IGAs, FATCA is a dead letter. Remember, T&T is being forced to implement the IGA, not FATCA per se,” he noted.
Jatras was critical of those seeking to advocate for the passage of FATCA legislation in T&T.
“…Citizens of T&T should find offensive the scare tactics being employed by the Rowley Government, Ambassador Estrada, the BATT, and other voices threatening that the US will lay waste to T&T’s economy if you don’t comply with an edict you are neither legally nor morally obliged to obey,” he stated.
“Since when is a sovereign country ruled by the laws enacted by a foreign government under a doctrine of ‘might makes right’?” he asked as he reiterated that Persad-Bissessar was right to raise questions.
Jatras noted that US Ambassador John Estrada had said that FATCA “targets US citizens, folks who are involved in tax evasion, money laundering, terrorism financing, illegal accumulation of wealth.”.
According to Jatras, this was not the case.