The following is from an entrepreneur friend I’ve blogged about before. What he’s going through is a direct result of FATCA. You and me? We might not think we’re rich enough to be affected by this horrible, impossible law. If we have few or no offshore assets, we might think we have nothing to worry about.
But in the long run, we’re all hurt as American citizens become worldwide pariahs, as avenues of freedom are closed off, and as stupid government tricks push our commerce and technology into fear-created backwaters.
Anyhow, from my friend:
I’ve already whined to you about having to close my Swiss bank account. That process has been started. It will end up costing me about $10,000 in travel and fees. I’m moving the money from accounts denominated in Swiss Francs to a firm that will warehouse gold bullion for me – for a fee. I kept gold in my Swiss safe deposit box for annual fee of $150 – and no one, no one at all, know what was inside. Now I will pay a fee to buy bullion, plus about 1.5% of the value of the gold to the new firm every year, and they will know exactly what I have at all times.
It’s better than nothing, but it’s a major loss of money, privacy, and control.
I also had Swiss Travel Cash cards. These were very cool. You pay a small fee to load a card from your Swiss account. You can have cards for dollars, Euros, or Swiss Francs. You can have them for meatspace credit cards, or internet purchases, or as an iPhone app. I had dollar and Euro credit cards. Each card can hold up to 10,000 units of currency. There are no additional fees. The cards have no names on them, just a European mastercard number. You can use them anywhere mastercard is accepted, with a 4-digit pin. See here.
When a close friend was going through a nasty divorce, her wealthy in-laws paid a pack of lawyers to freeze all her assets, the better to steal the house and get custody of the kids, I handed her my dollar card and whispered the pin in her ear. She was able to hire her own lawyers and sort things out. I was repaid in full. The kids are with her. There were no records of the spending, no way for the other sharks to get at this money.
Now its gone. I got a polite but firm email stating that I have to close out all Swiss Travel Cash cards by June 1. Like closing the Swiss bank accounts, this applies to all US citizens.
I realize there won’t be much sympathy for a rich one-percenter. Actually I’m just breaking into the 10% class, the ones who make 43% of US AGI and paid 70.5% of total income taxes. But once the idea of class war is accepted, the lines get blurry. It really doesn’t matter if I’m in the 1%, 5%, 10%, or even 20%.
What matters is that I’ve been cut out of the herd, and forced into a series of ever tighter chutes, and I know what lies ahead.
I read libertopia dreamers who write about anonymous digital cash. It’s not a dream, it is cold plastic reality, but it is being denied to Americans while the rest of the world moves ahead.