Certain aspects of FATCA have been a source of controversy in the financial and general press. The controversy primarily relates to five central issues:
Cost. Although numbers are still somewhat speculative, estimates of the additional revenue raised seem to be heavily outweighed by the cost of implementing the legislation. The Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists (ACFCS) claims FATCA is expected to raise revenues of approximately US$800 million per year for the US Treasury; however, the costs of implementation are more difficult to estimate, and estimates between hundreds of millions and over US$10 billion have been published. ACFCS also claims it is extremely likely that the cost of implementing FATCA (which will be borne by the foreign financial institutions) will far outweigh the revenues raised by the US Treasury, even excluding the additional costs to the US Internal Revenue Service for the staffing and resources needed to process the data produced. Unusually, FATCA was not subject to a cost/benefit analysis by the Committee on Ways and Means.
Capital flight. The primary mechanism for enforcing the compliance of foreign financial institutions is a punitive withholding levy on US assets. This may create a strong incentive for foreign financial institutions to divest (or not invest) in US assets, resulting in capital flight.
Foreign relations. Forcing foreign financial institutions and foreign governments to collect data on US citizens at their own expense and transmit it to the IRS is divisive. Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has raised an issue with this "far reaching and extraterritorial implications" which would require Canadian banks to become extensions of the IRS and would jeopardize Canadians' privacy rights. There are also reports of many foreign banks refusing to open accounts for Americans, making it harder for Americans to live and work abroad.
Extraterritoriality. The legislation enables US authorities to impose regulatory costs, and potentially penalties, on foreign financial institutions who otherwise have few if any dealings with the United States. The U.S. has sought to ameliorate that criticism by offering reciprocity to potential countries who sign Intergovernmental Agreements, but the idea of the US Government providing information on its citizens to foreign governments has also proved controversial.
Citizenship renunciations. Time magazine has reported a sevenfold increase in Americans renouncing US citizenship between 2008 and 2011 and has attributed this at least in part to FATCA.
There have also been doubts expressed as to workability of FATCA due to its enormous complexity, and the legislative timetable for implementation has already been pushed back twice.
American Citizens Abroad, a Geneva-based organization representing the interests of six million Americans residing outside the U.S., has been particularly vocal in opposition to the legislation and has launched a campaign to repeal FATCA. The group argues that "FATCA legislation is predicated on the faulty assumption that foreigners throughout the world with no predisposition to favor the U.S. will react positively to its attempts to convert them into unpaid IRS agents", and in addition to the issues above stresses the increased risk of identity theft, and the risk of a two-tier banking system developing to the partial exclusion of the U.S.
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia