It's Official - America Now Enforces Capital Controls

Tyler Durden's picture

It couldn't have happened to a nicer country. On March 18, with very little pomp and circumstance, president Obama passed the most recent stimulus act, the $17.5 billion Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (H.R. 2487), brilliantly goalseeked by the administration's millionaire cronies to abbreviate as HIRE. As it was merely the latest in an endless stream of acts destined to expand the government payroll to infinity, nobody cared about it, or actually read it. Because if anyone had read it, the act would have been known as the Capital Controls Act, as one of the lesser, but infinitely more important provisions on page 27, known as Offset Provisions - Subtitle A—Foreign Account Tax Compliance, institutes just that. In brief, the Provision requires that foreign banks not only withhold 30% of all outgoing capital flows (likely remitting the collection promptly back to the US Treasury) but also disclose the full details of non-exempt account-holders to the US and the IRS. And should this provision be deemed illegal by a given foreign nation's domestic laws (think Switzerland), well the foreign financial institution is required to close the account. It's the law. If you thought you could move your capital to the non-sequestration safety of non-US financial institutions, sorry you lose - the law now says so. Capital Controls are now here and are now fully enforced by the law.

Let's parse through the just passed law, which has been mentioned by exactly zero mainstream media outlets.

Here is the default new state of capital outflows:

(a) IN GENERAL.—The Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after chapter 3 the following new chapter:

‘‘Sec. 1471. Withholdable payments to foreign financial institutions.
‘‘Sec. 1472. Withholdable payments to other foreign entities.
‘‘Sec. 1473. Definitions.
‘‘Sec. 1474. Special rules.

‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—In the case of any withholdable payment to a foreign financial institution which does not meet the requirements of subsection (b), the withholding agent with respect to such payment shall deduct and withhold from such payment a tax equal to 30 percent of the amount of such payment.

Clarifying who this law applies to:

‘‘(C) in the case of any United States account maintained by such institution, to report on an annual basis the information described in subsection (c) with respect to such account,
‘‘(D) to deduct and withhold a tax equal to 30 percent of—

‘‘(i) any passthru payment which is made by such institution to a recalcitrant account holder or another foreign financial institution which does not meet the requirements of this subsection, and

‘‘(ii) in the case of any passthru payment which is made by such institution to a foreign financial institution which has in effect an election under paragraph (3) with respect to such payment, so much of such payment as is allocable to accounts held by recalcitrant account holders or foreign financial institutions which do not meet the requirements of this subsection.

What happens if this brand new law impinges and/or is in blatant contradiction with existing foreign laws?

‘‘(F) in any case in which any foreign law would (but for a waiver described in clause (i)) prevent the reporting of any information referred to in this subsection or subsection (c) with respect to any United States account maintained by such institution—

‘‘(i) to attempt to obtain a valid and effective waiver of such law from each holder of such account, and
‘‘(ii) if a waiver described in clause (i) is not obtained from each such holder within a reasonable period of time, to close such account.

Not only are capital flows now to be overseen and controlled by the government and the IRS, but holders of foreign accounts can kiss any semblance of privacy goodbye:

‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The agreement described in subsection (b) shall require the foreign financial institution to report the following with respect to each United States account maintained by such institution:
‘‘(A) The name, address, and TIN of each account holder which is a specified United States person and, in the case of any account holder which is a United States owned foreign entity, the name, address, and TIN of each substantial United States owner of such entity.
‘‘(B) The account number.
‘‘(C) The account balance or value (determined at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may provide).
‘‘(D) Except to the extent provided by the Secretary, the gross receipts and gross withdrawals or payments from the account (determined for such period and in such manner as the Secretary may provide)

The only exemption to the rule? If you hold the meager sum of $50,000 or less in foreign accounts.

‘‘(B) EXCEPTION FOR CERTAIN ACCOUNTS HELD BY INDIVIDUALS.—Unless the foreign financial institution elects to not have this subparagraph apply, such term shall not include any depository account maintained by such financial institution if—
‘‘(i) each holder of such account is a natural person,and
‘‘(ii) with respect to each holder of such account, the aggregate value of all depository accounts held (in whole or in part) by such holder and maintained by the same financial institution which maintains such account does not exceed $50,000.

And, while we are on the topic of definitions, here is how "financial account" is defined by the US:

‘‘(2) FINANCIAL ACCOUNT.—Except as otherwise provided by the Secretary, the term ‘financial account’ means, with respect to any financial institution—
‘‘(A) any depository account maintained by such financial institution,
‘‘(B) any custodial account maintained by such financial institution, and
‘‘(C) any equity or debt interest in such financial institution (other than interests which are regularly traded on an established securities market). Any equity or debt interest which constitutes a financial account under subparagraph (C) with respect to any financial institution shall be treated for purposes of this section as maintained by such financial institution.

In case you find you do not like to be subject to capital controls, you are now deemed a "Recalcitrant Account Holder."

‘‘(6) RECALCITRANT ACCOUNT HOLDER.—The term ‘recalcitrant account holder’ means any account holder which—
‘‘(A) fails to comply with reasonable requests for the information referred to in subsection (b)(1)(A) or (c)(1)(A),
or ‘‘(B) fails to provide a waiver described in subsection (b)(1)(F) upon request.

But guess what - if you are a foreign Central Bank, or if the Secretary determined that you are "a low risk for tax evasion" (unlike the Secretary himself) you still can do whatever the hell you want:

‘‘(f) EXCEPTION FOR CERTAIN PAYMENTS.—Subsection (a) shall not apply to any payment to the extent that the beneficial owner
of such payment is—
‘‘(1) any foreign government, any political subdivision of a foreign government, or any wholly owned agency or instrumentality of any one or more of the foregoing,
‘‘(2) any international organization or any wholly owned agency or instrumentality thereof,
‘‘(3) any foreign central bank of issue, or
‘‘(4) any other class of persons identified by the Secretary for purposes of this subsection as posing a low risk of tax evasion.

One thing we are confused about is whether this law is a preamble, or already incorporates, the flow of non-cash assets, such as commodities, and, thus, gold. If an account transfers, via physical or paper delivery, gold from a domestic account to a foreign one, we are not sure if the language deems this a 30% taxable transaction, although preliminary discussions with lawyers indicates this is likely the case.

And so the noose on capital mobility tightens, as very soon the only option US citizens have when it comes to investing their money, will be in government mandated retirement annuities, which will likely be the next step in the capital control escalation, which will culminate with every single free dollar required to be reinvested into the US, likely in the form of purchasing US Treasury emissions such as Treasuries, TIPS and other worthless pieces of paper. 

Congratulations bankrupt America - you are now one step closer to a thoroughly non-free market.

Full HIRE Act text:


h/t Jørgen and Panama Investor Blog


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Segestan's picture

People like Gerald Celente say the US is going to see a tax revolt.... something will break when every screw is being twisted.

Hulk's picture

Brinker just went over the tax implications of Healthcare.for upper bracket earners in high tax states, the total tax rate will end up between 57 and 67 percent

Missing_Link's picture

The tax revolt has already started.  It's called the Tea Party.

tom88norman's picture

Yeah I think you've got a good point there. A tax revolt started at some level as soon as the Tea Party did.

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MarketTruth's picture

Speaking of Celente.... and Capitol Controls.... Rent/watch the movie Rollover. Here is a highlight:

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Got guns?  Got God?  Got stormtroopers.

Feds raid Michigan Militia:

No details of the charges against any of those taken into custody were immediately available.

The arrest warrants remain under court-ordered seal, FBI spokesman Jason Pack said Sunday.


Votewithabullet's picture

Got guns? Got god? Got video on Youtube? Dumm dum dum dum.

PulpCutter's picture

Come on, folks, let's try to use a little common sense here.

This is about cutting down on tax evasion, not "capital controls".  Read past the paranoid headline, look at the text and try to think.

There's no prohibition against moving money out, as long as you report it - and the reporting requirement has already been in law for some time now.  If you have a foreign account over 10K$ (if memory serves), you have to report it yearly.  Been that way for years.

Get a grip, folks.

Here's KPMG's breakdown of the HIRE act:

Foreign account tax compliance measures, including:
• the imposition of 30-percent withholding requirements on certain payments made to foreign financial institutions unless those institutions agree to adhere to certain reporting requirements for U.S. account holders;
• the imposition of 30-percent withholding requirements on certain payments made to non-financial foreign entities unless those entities comply with certain reporting requirements as to U.S. owners;
• the repeal of preferred treatment for foreign-targeted bearer bonds;
• a requirement that individuals holding more than $50,000 in reportable foreign assets report information about such assets on their U.S. tax returns, and a penalty of up to $50,000 for failure to so report;
• penalties of 40 percent for under-payments attributable to undisclosed foreign financial assets;
• a presumption that where a U.S. person transfers property to a foreign trust, the trust has a U.S. beneficiary;

Al Gorerhythm's picture

Freedom's just another word for, nothin' left to lose

Nothin and that's all that 'Bama left me.

I never did understand that first line. If that's what freedom means, well, I guess we're all free now.

Dark Space's picture

I don't think the lyrics have 'Bama in them - unless you're listening to some Jimmy Buffet cover I just don't know.


But he is looking at "Freedom" through bohemian styled rose-colored glasses (i.e. I live out of my saddlebags in the woods, own nothing, completely free b/c you can't take anything away from me), not the "Freedom" you fight for ;-0

Karston1234's picture

This was really a very interesting article that I really do appreciate.
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PD Quig's picture

You must have missed the memo where you are going to be taxed out of your ever lovin' little mind. Of course this is JUST about tax evasion, and sure the legal substructure was already established. Now all that's needed is the final coup de grace where no speck of income goes uncollected, where every dime washes through the machine and comes out a penny on the other side, the 9 cents having been taken to pay off the politicians, the government worker class, the core constituents, and ideological brothers and sisters.

I guess you missed the memo where the government just took what will soon amount to control of the most important facet of life: health (because "when they've got your health, they've got just about everything").

You missed the trendline break, my friend. This is all going in the wrong direction fast.

yomamma's picture

That's right, PD Quig. We are going to see a tax rate hike.


You, I'm assuming, are a high-end earner. Otherwise, I don't know what you're quaking in your boots about given the fact that there was a tax reduction for nearly 92% of Americans.


I'm in the high (but not the highest) bracket. But really though, what the hell are we in the upper tiers of the tax system using all of that extra money for when the wage-slaves of the service sector and the victims of long-range, multi-sector cyclical unemployment are unable to get a job, much less to even get by (even with the help of a stretched-to-the-bone government assistance program).


We're all members of this nation, we're all in the rut we're in together, but we benefit and suffer from it differentially. I'm able to continue paying my rents, going out to eat, being able to have a few drinks for a night out, and meet with clients in a laundered suit. Many are not. A vastly disproportionate many. The fact that I can still hold on to my luxuries, help some friends out so they can hold on to theirs- it means I've got a sizable crop of cash...and an obligation to pay more given the diminishing marginal return I get from having extra capital. So I tighten my belt a bit and don't do as much as I used to. So what? I'm still in the caste with privileged (likely undeserved) access.


If there are designs beyond capital controls on outbound monetary flows which are built to prevent our American leisure class and our corporate plutocracy from losing even one fractional unit of their fortunes to an illegal tax shelter, I don't see them yet. But FINALLY someone has begun the process of shutting down some of the structural compromises of the tax system.


We'll know when the burden is too much, but right now we're not even seeing a hint of the cosmic-level, police state taxation model which you seem to say is on the table right now. You may want to breath into your mask and wash it out to prevent any fogging-up the next time you decide to dive deep into the Mariana Trench of Bullsh@t which you picked this gem up from.

bugs_'s picture

Almost midnight.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Very true.  11:57.  Years ago was the time to start moving something out of the USA.

If you have not yet done so, better get started ASAP.

Also pick up any guns and ammo while you still can.  Almost a guarantee that is on Obama's radar. Might as well have some gold too.

Gordon_Gekko's picture

Or just get the hell out of the USA. Remember Germany? First they take your money, then they take your lives.

Shameful's picture

Yeah but it's a rough would out there moving out with some assets helps.  Things are getting worse but still time to gather a few assets. Though I agree that people should be eyeing the door.  Who knows when Uncle Sugar will go totally insane...well more totally insane then he already is.

Hulk's picture


Germany? First they take your money and guns, then they take your lives.

BrianOFlanagan's picture

step by step, piece by piece our freedoms are being taken away and nobody notices or cares, except the "dolts".

knukles's picture

Dolts...and conspiracy theorists, tin foil (mad) hatters, Tea Partiers, nut cases, left or right wingers, criminals, Marxists, fascists, name it.

Every time one warns of trends, events such as these, the response is derision.  Once it proves true, the response is a shrug.  And a warning anew is met with accusations of dolts, conspiracy theorists, tin foil.....

You get the picture. 

Time to conclude that all I can save is myself.  So what do I do with my portfolio now?  Seems is a crystal clear historical precedent...Britain in the Post War era. 
Many say "No!" or "It can't. This is America!"

We're Americans, history don't apply to us.  Does it?

hbjork1's picture


The old "saw" that says: "Those that cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it." is too, too true.  A generation ago the historians, Will & Ariel Durant made the observation in their little final book, "The Lessons of History" that governments have tended to swing from the "right" to the "left" and back again.  Since we elect a new President every four years we don't have to have a little shooting war each time we want to change ours. 

Obama, is on the extreme left and he is going after the offshore transfers upon which tax never gets paid.  Certainly it is a restriction on the freedom of every citizen.  The implications of his ways of getting things done, particually since he hasn't gone after the existing criminality in some of those in his administration is scary. 

But, after the (personal opinion) goofeyness of the way the last administration went into the middle east with the large hidden budgets thrown at military activities (part of the inflation/deficit issue), and circumstances, the extreme response doesn't seem to great a suprising. 

We are "living in interesting times".

It is all going to be alright.  The only thing that most US citizens apparently care about anyway is "Dancing with the Stars".



delacroix's picture

Iraq was pillaged immediately, where do you think the treasures went? not to the people, who finance the operation. saddam had personal wealth, comparable to the worlds richest men. where did it go? who cleaned out his rafidian bank account.

Carl Marks's picture

The parasites are killing the host. Take from the middle class and give to the parasite class. We're all parasites now.

bc0203's picture

This just sounds more like a method to ensure that people don't evade taxes by holding investments abroad.  I'm sure we'll see them taking additional steps, such as offering "rewards" to people who come forward with information about US citizens who have hidden foreign investments abroad, just like the Germans did recently.

What should concern anyone of considerable personal net worth (unfortunately, I'm not of this class) is that they wouldn't be pinning the assets of the wealthy down like this unless they were planning to tax the hell out of them.  

To quote the movie Crimson Tide, "You don't put on a condom unless you're going to f*ck."

Sudden Debt's picture

It's just a way to make sure that also the rich pay taxes. sounds logic to me.

Gordon_Gekko's picture


geopol's picture

Now,, that,, was content free....

Comrade de Chaos's picture

the most valuable commodity is information and whoever control it, dictates the structure of the social fabric. at any rate, the above looks like a rather desperate step in a long string of incoming desperate steps once the liquidity provision program is over. Can't define it as soft landing anymore, let's attempt a stupid / government lending. 

all HAIL yeah we can movement, cause we can !

theworldisnotenough's picture

Peter Schiff was right, again...

This is a dangerous game this administration is playing. Pinning in high earners with capital controls prompts the next logical response. Moving their capital out of the US for investment overseas. Which prompts the next response from the administration, taxing the hell out of money leaving the country. At some point people that can afford to not be productive and still pay their bills will do exactly that. The "Going Galt" scenario is becoming more and more likely.  Elections have consequences.


DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I am 54.  I decided 6 months ago to write "Retired" on any forms I now have to fill out.

I cannot see how ANYONE would run the risks and high taxes to open a business or hire anyone (a small business anyway).

Health Care?  I'm just going to pay the fine.  "Run naked".  Fc*k 'em.  Get my health care done in Peru.


I can only conclude that this all DELIBERATE.  A final rape of America before they get down to the serious business of totalitarianism.

Remember, the Germans voted in Adolf Hitler.  They wanted hope, and they got their change.

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

Took a college course on propaganda.  Saw old clips of Adolph making stirring speeches to apparently adoring crowds....



Dicite justitiam's picture

That dude was good.

I remember from reading Shiller's massive tome about the third Reich that after one of Hitler's first putsches he was thrilled to know that he had it.  Dude could channel Wagner with his oratory.  Obama doesn't compare.

delacroix's picture

 DoChen you should apply for dual citizenship. the israelis have no problem doing it. I don't know about peru, but there has to be a south or central american country, where it's easy, and inexpensive. did you say your wife was peruvian? that should make it easier

Jesse's picture

Not to be nitpicky, but these are not "capital controls."

Capital controls are restrictions on moving currency in and out of a country, in order to help to manage against volatile swings in valuation.

These are tax controls on foreign held assets, part of the admittedly widening grip of the US on its citizens wealth.  It is almost assuredly in anticipation of a 'capital flight' from those who wish to evade taxes as you suggest.

China has capital controls.  One cannot take their currency out of country when you leave.  But given the huge amount of eurodollars and their relative free flow, it is a bit misleading to say that 'capital controls' are now in place.

It sounds nitpicky again, I know.  But it is important. Because if the US ever does put in genuine capital controls, you know the dollar is on the precipice.

As it is this is just the taxman doing his thing, trying to crack the tax shelters, and upsetting some nations that made an industry out of it.


Rogerwilco's picture

They are indeed capital controls -- by proxy. The net result of these regulations is that many foreign banks will now simply refuse to do business with U.S. citizens to avoid the hassles and reporting requirements. The extremely wealthy will always find ways to move their assets, this law is aimed at the less-connected who may want to trake some retirement savings and invest overseas as a hedge. Without a foreign checking account or a local credit card, expats live at the mercy of the ATM machines. Ever try to buy a car or rent an apartment when the most you can pull out of ATMs is $500 a day?

glenlloyd's picture

"Ever try to buy a car or rent an apartment when the most you can pull out of ATMs is $500 a day?"

You don't need to be an expat to feel queasy by the above situation. One reason I'm pulling all but a modest amount out of my checking account and bringing it home. It may be risky to keep bundles of cash at home but when I can only access $300 per day from the ATM it takes a long time to get it all.


HungrySeagull's picture

One bank run per month, one vault to keep it in and plenty of guns/ammo and dogs to keep any eye on it all.

The other bank take care of auto draft bills and no atms have been touched in over 6 years now. All cash, all the time.

silence's picture

But then that's what it is always about - catching all the less-connected...

G. Marx's picture


Yes indeed, how silly of us to think that after we pay taxes on what we earn, what's left is actually ours for our own "pursuit of happiness" or even thrift. For you see, from the time we earn to the time we spend, our monies are merely loaned to us by the state, we should be all so grateful to political machinery which allows us to have any wealth at all (especially when there might be just one other person with one less dollar than the rest of us). And what's even more comforting to know, is that there will always be those willing apologist who will quickly jump quickly into the fray and utilize the Jedi mind trick to help reassure us that we should "...move along, these aren't the droids you're looking for."

It goes without saying that one can't be taxed too much, now can they? And heaven forbid the thought that the tax code in the US is a facillitor of the grand ponzi scheme at work, because we all know it isn't, correct? I'd ship you my copy of the tax code, but the postage would be a killer, sorry.


"The fact is that liberty, in any true sense, is a concept that lies quite beyond the reach of the inferior man's mind. He can imagine and even esteem, in his way, certain false forms of liberty - for example, the right to choose between two political mountebanks, and to yell for the more obviously dishonest - but the reality is incomprehensible to him. And no wonder, for genuine liberty demands of its votaries a quality he lacks completely, and that is courage. The man who loves it must be willing to fight for it; blood, said Jefferson, is its natural manure. More, he must be able to endure it - an even more arduous business. Liberty means self-reliance, it means resolution, it means the capacity for doing without." - H.L. Mencken

boooyaaaah's picture

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

The stickey phase "All men are created equal" led Abe L. to pursuade previous Americans that slavery was wrong --- even though popular and spreading ---

Maybe the individual right to pursue happiness without infringing on others life or liberty ---- may yet be used to convince today's American that economic control by the Government is wrong

That was Lincoln's key --- that slavery was wrong --- today's Americans are not convinced that social planning is wrong ---the best that can be said today is that the republican's offer a different set of controls on your pursuit of happiness than the dems.

This is especially apparant when you look at the bastions of free enterprise system --- banks and the investment market--- selling worthless securities as sound investments (MBS) or selling a security you they do not own (Naked Short Selling) withe the blessing of the SEC and DTCC --- Is that America's example of the pursuit of happiness?

"When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed. l





Catullus's picture

Lincoln didn't believe that slavery was wrong.  Those are bedtime stories government schools spread to justify murdering hundreds of thousands of people to collect taxes.  Read his first inaugural address:


WaterWings's picture

Fourth Lincoln-Douglas Debate

I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.]

mouser98's picture

i wonder how that got left out of my high school history book?

seventree's picture

I don't believe it's engraved on the Lincoln Memorial anywhere either. Probably wasn't room.

Anonymouse's picture

If you go to the basement section of the Lincoln Memorial, there is quite a bit that shows his racist views.  Worth the visit.  I was surprised to see these there

web dizajn's picture

I thought that was pretty much general knowledge web dizajn He was not only a racist but also willing to let as many Americans die as necessary for him to remain in power

Rusty Shorts's picture

Ah yes, and the Native Americans, were third in line in this pecking order.

swamp's picture

And women are still last while most men still applaud it.