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The big question on Monday is how will the Opposition vote on the Tax Information Exchange Agreement Bill?

The bill, which everyone calls the FATCA legislation comes up before the House of Representatives on Monday afternoon for debate.

The report of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) is in, and all eyes will be on the Opposition to see how they debate and vote.

The bill needs a three-fifths majority to be passed in the Parliament because it infringes on the rights of the individual under Sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution.

The Opposition had requested that the bill is put to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament because it infringed on the rights of the citizen.

After consideration by the JSC, the bill subsequently was put out for public comments and now returns to the Parliament to be debated.

Trinidad and Tobago have until February 28 to pass the bill, and until September 30, to have the infrastructure for reporting information to the US-based Inland Revenue Service (IRS).

In a statement on Sunday, the Bankers’ Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) said now that all the issues surrounding the Bill had been vented the time for discussion had now come to an end adding that, “the TIEA must be implemented to allow the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) time to begin the implementation process for the FATCA reporting requirements which are due by September 2017.”

BATT reminded the Opposition that the consequences for non-compliance with T&T’s international obligations have been reported on extensively by the local media and therefore, “T&T cannot run the risk of damage to the reputation of our country.”

Specifically, BATT stated that the reporting standards would impact US persons only, who already have an obligation to report to the IRS about their revenue. BATT said this means, “This requirement is therefore not new and does not impose any new requirement on US persons. No other information other than what is explicitly stated in the FATCA requirements will be reported by Banks to the BIR.

The Opposition United National Congress (UNC) intends to meet in caucus to take a final decision on its position on the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) ahead of the meeting of the Lower House of Parliament to discuss the report of the Joint Select Committee on FATCA.

The political leader of the United National Congress, the Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said her party had taken no final decision on what its position would be regarding the Bill.

The UNC had lobbied the Government for the establishment of a Joint Select Committee on the legislation and had indicated that once the work of the JSC was completed it would support the legislation which needs Opposition support for passage.

The JSC asked for public comment on the legislation.

The public had until Friday afternoon to submit comments, concerns, and recommendations.

But even as the JSC was meeting, the Opposition Leader wrote to the US President Donald Trump seeking clarification on whether his Republican-led government would repeal the law which had been passed by the Democratic-led Barack Obama administration.

Persad-Bissessar said she had not received a response to her January 13, letter to Trump.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act-FATCA was enacted in March 2010 by the US Government.

It requires foreign financial institutions to report directly to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) all clients who are US citizens, green card holders living in the US or abroad or foreign entities in which US taxpayers have financial assets outside of the US exceeding US$500,000 to report these assets to the IRS.
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