Accidental Americans' association criticises decision to allow data sharing with US tax authorities

The Brussels Court of Appeal has overturned a decision by the Belgian Data Protection Authority (DPA) that declared the transfer of tax data of "accidental Americans" to the US to be unlawful.

The transfer of personal data of Belgian "accidental Americans" - people who were born on American soil but have never or only briefly lived there - to the US tax authorities is governed by an intergovernmental agreement. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) provides for the transfer of data on Americans living abroad to the IRS in order to combat tax fraud.

Following a complaint, the DPA ruled last May that the agreement was in contradiction with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. It therefore prohibited the Belgian tax authorities from transferring the tax data of these individuals to the US authorities.

'Harsh judgement'

However, the Federal Public Service Finance appealed and the Brussels Court of Appeal ruled in its favour and overturned the DPA's decision.

According to the Accidental Americans Association of Belgium (AAAB), the court did not rule on the merits of the case, but referred it back to the DPA on the grounds that insufficient reasons had been given for the transfer ban. The AAAB regrets this "harsh judgement", which it says will only delay the process.

"These violations (...) are particularly harmful to accidental Americans who have not chosen to be American citizens"

"I think it is high time that EU member states start renegotiating the FATCA agreements to exclude accidental Americans from their scope and to include sufficient data protection safeguards," said AAAB president Fabien Lehagre in a statement.

"It is important that these violations of the fundamental rights of European citizens stop, as they are particularly harmful to accidental Americans who have not chosen to be American citizens."


Illustration image of a Belgian tax declaration form © BELGA PHOTO THIERRY ROGE

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