cross-posted from: Isaac Brock Society
by Stephen J. Kish
The Plaintiffs (of which I am one of seven) of the Republicans Overseas United States FATCA lawsuit, filed, on July 5, 2016 in U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, a “Brief” arguing that the U.S. District Court erred in dismissing the FATCA lawsuit.
We are suing: United States Department of the Treasury, United States Internal Revenue Service, and United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. SEE THE BRIEF.
“The district court held that no Plaintiff has standing for any of the eight counts (Dismissal Order, RE 42), even with added plaintiffs and facts in the proposed Amended Complaint (RE 32-1).”
“Preliminarily, note that while the Government asserts interests in fighting tax evasion, money laundering, and terrorism, Plaintiffs are ordinary people abroad seeking freedom from serious harms from challenged provisions and IGAs. Plaintiffs are not alone. An extensive, careful survey,[from Democrats Abroad…]”
“The Government has other, successful tools to catch scofflaws without the unconstitutional, intrusive, bulk-data-collection approach of the challenged provisions and IGAs that so harm ordinary Americans.”
“Taxpayer information was recently stolen from the IRS itself because the IRS has not prevented hacking of its own systems and theft of taxpayer information.”
“Thus, people do have a reasonable expectation of privacy from the U.S. and foreign governments in their bank accounts under the situations at issue here. They reasonably do not expect the bulk, blanket reporting of information under challenged provisions and IGAs, including to foreign governments, without any hint of wrongdoing and without judicial oversight, the lack of which makes such searches “per se unreasonable.”18 So Plaintiffs have a cognizable privacy interest.”
“…Plaintiffs rely on no third-party standing, though they provide information about relevant third parties to demonstrate how FATCA negatively affects their lives and relationships. Rather, they rely on their own interests, especially the constitutionally protected interest in not disclosing information they do not want to disclose.”
“The district court said that because Plaintiffs harms, particularly problems in getting banking services for essential everyday-living accounts,20 are not fairly traceable to government action, Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge provisions motivating FFIs not to provide services to Americans abroad….So the argument is not that, e.g., the IRS persuaded some bank to deny services to Plaintiffs Crawford or Kuettel, but that FFIs don’t accept Americans’ accounts because of FATCA/IGA burdens. Where a provision/agreement harms a person by causing FFIs to deny services (or by disrupting marital joint accounts or the ability to open an account in a minor’s name), that harm is fairly traceable to the government responsible for the provision/agreement.”
“The law on causation for standing recognizes such indirect harm. For example, Plaintiffs affected by FATCA/IGAs have standing for the reasons stated regarding Count 1 because the FFI Passthrough Penalty is designed to punish noncompliance by account holders. And Plaintiffs would like to be noncompliant because they are burdened by FATCA/IGAs, which they believe are unconstitutional, but cannot be recalcitrant because of the Passthrough Penalty.”
“Furthermore, Plaintiffs alleged that they reasonably fear that they will be subject to the Willfulness Penalty for willful failure to file FBARs, indicating that they are filing FBARs. The FBAR report is a trap for the unprepared, uninformed, unwary, imposing this excessive penalty on those who know of the report but for some reason fail to get it done.”
“Moreover, Plaintiffs’ harms will be redressed by requested relief as to this Count. See Part I.C. Any notion that they must await a penalty or enforcement action is erroneous because one need not await enforcement to challenge unconstitutional provisions/agreements. And Plaintiffs would not file FBAR reports—and so become subject to this penalty—but for the challenged provision. So Plaintiffs have standing for Count 6…”