Consumer Finance

AmEx Must Share Dutch Account Info With IRS

In its latest John Doe summons, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is requiring American Express to send account information of Dutch residents with credit or debit cards linked to bank accounts outside the Netherlands to U.S. tax authorities.

The IRS had requested the information in cooperation with the Dutch government as part of an investigation to determine whether Dutch citizens living outside the Netherlands are complying with tax laws.

A Texas federal court authorized the IRS to serve a John Doe summons on American Express at the end of March, said the U.S. Justice Department in a statement. A John Doe summons is so-called because the IRS does not know the identities of the persons being investigated.

“In fighting international tax evasion, the IRS recognizes hidden offshore accounts are a problem other nations face as well,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “By using our existing network of bilateral agreements and tools, such as the John Doe summons, we can help address a common problem of evading taxation by hiding assets abroad.‎”

The court order comes as part of an ongoing international effort to quell tax evasion. Under a treaty between the Netherlands and the United States, the two countries can cooperate in exchanging information that is helpful in enforcing each country’s tax laws.

In mid-November last year, the IRS sought access via John Doe summons to bitcoin exchange Coinbase’s user records, as part of an investigation into alleged tax violations connected to virtual currency. In the case of Coinbase, user and attorney Jeffrey K. Berns filed a motion in federal court seeking to block the IRS from accessing personal, transactional and security data.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong additionally proposed that the bitcoin exchange could work with the IRS by adopting third-party tax reporting mechanisms, like the 1099-B form. If this were to have played out, Coinbase would have become the first bitcoin exchange to adopt such a structure.

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