A mini “economic social” cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, soon will approve an agreement to share information on accounts of U.S. citizens with the Internal Revenue Service, sources told the Globes business newspaper.
The newspaper said the proposal will allow the IRS full access on Americans’ accounts in Israeli banks and other financial institutions.
The U.S. government is preparing to sign agreements with other countries as well, but Israel is high on its “hit list,” partly because Swiss banks have accounts in three Israeli banks. Switzerland is no longer a safe place for foreigners to hide their money from the tax man, and so Israel has become a favorite home for money launderers and tax evaders.
The Israel Tax Authority is expecting increased revenues if the measure is approved. “The agreement will include an option under which, subject to certain conditions, information will be sent from the U.S. tax authorities to the Israeli tax authorities about the income of Israeli residents in the U.S.,” the document states.
However, while all information on American accounts in Israel will be sent to the IRS, Israel will receive data only in special cases.
The proposed agreement contained clauses aimed at protecting individuals from the IRS misusing personal information, but it is not clear if the IRS has learned its lessons from recent scandals, such as hunting down those nasty pro-Israel groups, as reported here.
Big Brother in Israel also is waiting on deck.
Attorney Yael Grossman, an expert in money laundering, told Globes, “The decision paves the way for further harm to the separation between the management of money by a bank and disclosure to Income Tax. Although at the moment, the measure helps the banks and saves them the need to work directly with the IRS, but experience shows that it will later expose all of the public’s banking activities to the Israel Tax Authority.
“This will be the final burial of banking confidentiality on one hand and a signal for the strengthening and prosperity of alternative institutions, which will rush to offer alternative instruments to the public.”
Americans living in Israel have an alternative to leaving their tax records and financial activities accessible by your closest friendly IRS clerk. They can simply void their American citizenship, a growing trend that was reported here in December.
Approximately 3,000 did so in 2013, three times the number in 2012. That means the IRS cannot snoop on them, but it also means they lose their right to vote in American elections, assuming it would be worth voting.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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