Internal Revenue Service announces new International Data Exchange Service: The Beginning of Information Sharing

The Internal Revenue Service announced this week the opening of the International Data Exchange Service (IDES) for enrollment.  Financial institutions and host country tax authorities will use IDES to securely send their information reports on financial accounts held by U.S. persons to the IRS under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) or pursuant to the terms of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA), as applicable.

More than 145,000 financial institutions have registered through the IRS FATCA Registration System. The U.S. has more than 110 IGAs, either signed or agreed in substance. Financial institutions and host country tax authorities will use IDES to provide the IRS information reports on financial accounts held by U.S. persons.

“The opening of the International Data Exchange Service is a milestone in the implementation of FATCA,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “With it, comes the start of a secure system of automated, standardized information exchanges among government tax authorities. This will enhance our ability to detect hidden accounts and help ensure fairness in the tax system.”

Where a jurisdiction has a reciprocal IGA and the jurisdiction has the necessary safeguards and infrastructure in place, the IRS will also use IDES to provide similar information to the host country tax authority on accounts in U.S. financial institutions held by the jurisdiction’s residents.

Using IDES, a web application, the sender encrypts the data and IDES encrypts the transmission pathway to protect data transfers. Encryption at both the file and transmission level safeguards sensitive tax information.

Host country tax authorities in Model 2 IGA jurisdictions and financial institutions are encouraged to begin the enrollment process well in advance of their reporting deadline.

For host country tax authorities in Model 1 IGA jurisdictions, the IRS will directly notify them to let them know when it is time to enroll. Financial institutions will initiate enrollment online on their own; in order to enroll, the financial institution will need to have registered as a participating financial institution through the IRS FATCA Registration System and have a global intermediary identification number (GIIN) that appears on the IRS FATCA FFI list.

The IRS has published a searchable list of financial institutions. The FFI List Search and Download Tool is located on the IRS’s FATCA Website. The tool can be used to search for the name of a specific foreign financial institution and find out if it has registered under FATCA. Users can also download an entire list of financial institutions with the tool. See the FFI List Search and Download Tool and User Guide. Countries complying with FATCA can be found at FATCA – Archive.

The fact that 145,000 banks have registered and are providing government help to the IRS means that no foreign account is secret. US persons must report worldwide income and many must file IRS Form 8938 to report foreign accounts and assets. With such comprehensive databases, noncompliant taxpayers should beware; the IRS has quicker, better and more complete information than ever.

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