This article was written by guest contributor Nick Giambruno
If you’ve never heard of the obscure and seemingly boring Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), I don’t blame you.
Few people have, and even fewer fully grasp what it really means or the terrible things that it’s a harbinger for.
That so few people understand FATCA is perhaps not surprising. Often, otherwise offensive government actions and institutions are given dull and opaque names to obfuscate their true purpose.
I think the Federal Reserve is an excellent example of this.
After two experiments with central banking in the US failed to take root in the 1800s, anything associated with a central bank became deeply unpopular with the public.
So, the central banking advocates decided to try something new—a fresh branding strategy.
Rather than call their new central bank the Third Bank of the United States (the previous ones were named the First and Second Bank of the United States respectively), they decided to give it a vague and boring name that would conceal from the average person what it really was: a central bank. They chose the name “Federal Reserve” for that purpose.
I’d say they were pretty successful, unfortunately. Nearly 100 years later, most Americans don’t have the slightest clue what the Federal Reserve is, what it does, nor how it affects them.
I believe the same dynamic is at work with FATCA.
While FATCA is ostensibly about cracking down on offshore tax evasion, I think another motive is at play.
So let’s peel back the layers of this onion and find out.
The optimistic estimate for FATCA is that it will bring in around $9 billion over 10 years, or $900 million on average per year.
With the deficit in fiscal year 2013 for the US federal government at $680 billion, the expected $900 million from FATCA isn’t even a drop in the bucket (actually around one-tenth of one percent). Even in the event that the US will moderately reduce its deficit in the future, the revenue from FATCA will remain a pittance in comparison.
So it begs the question: Why would the US government go through all the enormous trouble and cost of implementing FATCA if it’s going to bring in such a relatively meager amount of money?
FATCA on Steroids
FATCA’s real purpose is not to collect money, but rather to pave the way for a global FATCA, informally known as GATCA.
You see, complying with FATCA often breaks the privacy laws of other countries. To get around this problem, the US government has been negotiating bilateral agreements with pretty much every country in the world.
However, it’s not practical for each and every country to create their own version of FATCA and accompanying web of bilateral agreements. It would be a very slow and tedious process.
So to address this issue, the central planners at the G20 and OECD devised what they call a new “global standard” of automatic financial information exchange between governments (i.e., GATCA) modeled on the US’s FATCA.
In other words, unaccountable bureaucrats from these supranational institutions are foisting upon the world a FATCA on steroids.
However, GATCA would have never been possible in the first place had the US not cleared the path with FATCA.
The G20 and OECD needed the US—the sole financial superpower (for now at least)—to strong-arm and cram down the throats of the rest of the world this privacy-killing measure. There’s no other entity on the planet with the capability to do so.
The very big stick the US wielded was access to the US financial system and the world’s premier reserve currency. Don’t sign up for FATCA and forget about accessing the US dollar or US financial system, and by extension the vast majority of international trade. It wasn’t long before most of the world fell in line.
Now that FATCA has become a fait accompli, the foundation has been laid for GATCA.
Unfortunately GATCA also will likely become an irreversible reality in the not-so-distant future.
I believe it’s highly probably that the OECD, the G20, and others will sanction or otherwise blackmail countries that don’t comply with GATCA. The pressure will likely be too enormous for the vast majority of countries to bear.
In the end, this means a permanent record of every penny you have ever earned, saved, borrowed, or spent anywhere in the world will be available in an instant to be analyzed and scrutinized, and shared with any number of local and global government agencies, all regardless of any actual or suspected wrongdoing.
But wait, there’s more!
If FATCA wasn’t the end game, don’t expect GATCA to be either.
Let’s peel back the final layer of the onion.
What Comes Next
Did you really think that all these governments would go through all the trouble of creating the architecture to gather all this global financial data with GATCA and then just let it collect dust? Of course not. They’re going to leverage this data as much as they can.
It’s no secret that collectivists the world over have long fantasized about creating a global tax with a planetary taxation authority. Whether it’s the global carbon tax, a worldwide tax on financial transactions, or a UN tax on air and sea travel, all prior attempts at creating a global tax haven’t really worked, as the infrastructure for collecting the data and enforcement wasn’t in place.
However, that could all change with GATCA, which could provide a platform to make the disturbing dream of a global tax a reality.
Bankrupt governments like France and the UK are also on board, as it allows them to more efficiently fleece and control their citizens. Strangely, you never hear financially sound countries, like Switzerland, Singapore, or Hong Kong advocating for FATCA, GATCA, or a global tax. It’s only the failed welfare states drowning in debt, and that’s not a coincidence.
All of this dovetails perfectly with the disconcerting global success of the economist Thomas Piketty. Piketty is sort of like a modern John Maynard Keynes in that he is giving academic cover and legitimacy to what otherwise should be perceived as radically destructive policies—like an inescapable global wealth tax.
Old Wine in New Bottles
Similar to how the income tax was originally sold to Americans, FATCA is being sold as a measure targeted only at the “rich.”
Of course, once you give politicians an inch, they will take a mile.
You’ll recall that when the federal income tax was introduced in 1913, those making up to $20,000 (equivalent to around $475,000 today) were only taxed at 1%, the top bracket kicked in at $500,000 (equivalent to around $12 million today), and the tax rate there was only 7%.
Of course once the infrastructure was in place for the federal income tax, the politicians naturally couldn’t resist ramping it up until we have the monstrosity that exists today, which most Americans passively accept as “normal.”
Expect a similar dynamic and gradualism with FATCA, GATCA, and a global tax.
What You Can Do
Obscure and boring wording was used to conceal to the average American the true purpose of the Federal Reserve, and the same is true about FATCA.
In reality, FATCA isn’t about stopping tax evasion or collecting revenue, as the numbers clearly show. It’s all about setting up the architecture to the ultimate goal of establishing a global tax as envisioned by Piketty and his fellow travelers.
Unfortunately there’s little any individual can practically do to change the trajectory of this trend in motion. The best you can and should do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation.
This is what Doug Casey’s International Man is all about: helping you cut through the smoke and mirrors while making the most of your personal freedom and financial opportunities around the world. The free IM Communiqué is a great place to start.