Critics Mount Constitutional Attack on Dreaded FATCA Tax Regime

By:  Alex Newman
05/13/2014
       
Critics Mount Constitutional Attack on Dreaded FATCA Tax Regime

As the implementation deadline looms large for a deeply controversial new tax regime adopted largely by congressional Democrats and the Obama administration, critics of the measure are mounting a constitutional challenge, saying the scheme is wildly unconstitutional and must be struck down.

Opponents of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, have now brought on one of America’s top constitutional lawyers to lead the fight. In his initial analysis, the heavyweight attorney concluded that the sprawling addition to the U.S. tax code violates multiple provisions of the Constitution and, as such, must come down.

Faced with what even compliance mongers have said would be a “train wreck” on July 1, the day full enforcement of FATCA was supposed to begin following previous unilateral delays by the Obama administration, the IRS and the U.S. Treasury recently announced a “transition period” extending into 2015. According to the opaque announcement, the federal government will delay imposing harsh penalties on banks for now — as long as authorities believe they are trying in “good faith” to comply with the byzantine new tax regime. In other words: more lawlessness. 

If opponents of the scheme get their way, however, it may all be a moot point. Attorney Jim Bopp — described by analysts as a “superlawyer” for his role in the Supreme Court striking down other unconstitutional statutes such as McCain-Feingold — announced that he was taking up the case. In an interview with the Washington Times and other statements, Bopp, who is working with the group Republicans Overseas to kill the scheme, outlined three primary constitutional problems with FATCA and the related Foreign Bank Account Report (FABR).

“It is our preliminary opinion that the potentially meritorious claims are a violation of the treaty power, an 8th Amendment Excessive Fines Claim, and a 4th Amendment Search and Seizure Claim,” Bopp said in a statement posted online by Republicans Overseas. “We do not believe that a claim based on an unconstitutional delegation of Congressional power has merit. We believe that these three claims form the basis for a successful suit that would stop the damage that FATCA and FBAR have inflicted on U.S. citizens.”

First of all, because the Treasury is unilaterally signing unauthorized pseudo-treaties with foreign governments to violate privacy rights, the Senate’s constitutionally mandated role in ratifying treaties has been usurped. Numerous other experts have made the same argument, as The New American magazine reported in a major report on FATCA published last month. Already, without any purported authority to do so from the Constitution, or the FATCA statute itself, dozens of such “agreements” to gather and share private financial information have been signed with foreign rulers

According to Bopp, the FATCA statute also violates two of the unalienable rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Under the Fourth Amendment, privacy is supposed to be protected and the government needs a warrant to infringe on it. FATCA, though, takes the opposite approach, indiscriminately gathering sensitive information on everyone in an NSA-style dragnet for perusal by authorities. Multiple foreign governments have been coerced by the Obama administration to undo their own protections for privacy rights in an effort to comply with FATCA.

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